Paint Chips and Urban Artefacts
The origin of what used to be ArtWalk and then Float came out of the discovery of the Earth Room and Broken Kilometer. It opened my eyes to the many unknown facts and the disparate and inaccurate information on them. What also surprised me was that neither I, nor many of my New York friends, had heard of them.
I was amazed by the layers, the intense world of the past that I found, permanently installed right in front of us on every street corner.
Growing up 3 things were constant: My parents, traveling internationally, and then living in one big city after another. My dad was travel-obsessed and dragged us around the world. I realized much later that seeing all these places, without really appreciating them back then, had a profound effect on me and made me into the curious explorer I am today.
As a transplant to New York, knowing nothing, but having lived here long enough to feel like I should know something, I wanted to learn more about the city. I also had the urge to share my findings and stories. I was obsessed with knowing about anything in the public sphere, free and accessible, standing there waiting to be explored.
What fascinated me was the scale, relationship, permanence and presence of it in space. The size and having always been there made it blend in, seem almost invisible, taken for granted – yet the space had much to say.
But it’s not only sculptures, art or architecture, but in more general terms, space that can become a time capsule and capture a moment in time and transport us back.
I started thinking about these spaces as artefacts – left over pieces, fragments of much larger stories, that can remind us of the past and maybe even inspire us for the future.
When the paint starts peeling off the columns in the subway, revealing the last 10 coats underneath, you can see decades captured, each era color coded.
New York, every city really, is incredibly dense. Dense with people, with ideas, with events, happening simultaneously, layered, every building a hive of it all. Layers on top of each other but often obscured, only slices left to see.
And life is fast paced – collective busyness – in this hectic lifestyle, people don’t stop to look, to inquire about what is in front of them, to prod and question.
Museums have plaques all over the place – they give you the vitals and sometimes even part of the story – but there’s nothing similar out there for the urban space.
Even if you stop and try to find out, the information is hard to find, hidden away in old dusty books, out of print magazines, somewhere on a dark library shelf. The web has some of it, but it’s not cohesive, often fragmented, badly researched. I was disappointed that there was no place, a Wikipedia of sorts, to get my knowledge fix.
And thats really why I wanted to create ArtWalk – to find out more about the space around me, who lived here, thought there and created the things I walk by every day and admire.
Here we are, at the very early stage of this journey – call it a startup, a project, an idea – it’s my hope that we can redefine how we understand and explore but also appreciate our dense surrounding.
I’d love to hear what you think.