Whitney Singerie (2004/2005)
Side specific project proposal for the Whitney Museum:
'A herd of 8-10 apes (baboons) from the Bronx Zoo are to be taken to the sunken sculpture court of the Whitney Museum, and inhabit the forecourt for about 2-3 months.
For the transformation of the court into a sort of a more "natural habitat" requisites like artificial rock formations and trunks should be obtained or constructed. A guard from the zoo familiar with the animals should be present regularly, taking care of the feeding and fostering, and controlling the well being of the herd in general.
Seen from the street-side and the bridge the apes are on the lower level of the sunken sculpture court, whereas from the inside of the museum, seen from the restaurant, animals and humans reside on the same level. This provides the possibility for mutual observation of apes and guests of the Whitney restaurant divided just by the large glass windows.
For access to the museum the visitor crosses the bridge over the forecourt. In combination with the bridge and the cantilever outward the forecourt seems to quote the moat of a castle. In this context its symbolic function is an accentuated segregation between interior and exterior, in reference to the castle metaphor an emphasized protection of the interior behind the modernist museum walls.
I am interested in filling this blank, in making it psychologically and socially tangible. The space offers a possibility to sound the emotional components of anthropomorphism as well as to investigate the urban functions of artificial and natural habitats within the spectrum of an art institution.
The Creator's words (Marcel Breuer):
"What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan? Surely it should work, it should fulfill its requirements, but what is its relationship to the New York landscape? What does it express, what is its architectural message? It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a place of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-relying unit, exposed to history, and at the same time it should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art."
- From Tician Papachristou, Marcel Breuer: New Buildings and Projects. p14-15.