'Ann' dances…and annoys

March 11, 2008
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Yesterday, I found myself deliberately not making a left turn on Vermont from New Jersey Street.

My reason: I just didn’t want to see the Julian Opie “Ann Dancing” electronic sculpture.

Now, I’m a big fan of public art. I believe it can help define a city, a neighborhood, a street. And I think public art should be a key ingredient to both Mass Ave. and The Indianapolis Cultural Trail (Ann is parked on an intersection of both). And I’ve got nothing against this piece, if it were in a different location.

What I’m not a fan of is art that keeps demanding attention. For me, “Ann” is like that annoying “Tonight on Fox” information that pops up at the bottom of your TV screen when you’re trying to watch a show. I feel intruded on every time I see her.

I didn’t have the same reaction to her Opie-created friends who drew attention downtown last year in part because I knew they were temporary visitors. “Ann,” on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. She’s like that crazy, fun person who enlivens your party…and then sticks around long after the party’s over. Two days later, she’s still drinking in your living room.

And so you avoid the living room.

It comes down, I think, to location. I appreciate the TV-set sculpture on the top floor of the IMA, but it would drive me nuts if it were in a city park I frequented. A moving neon sculpture on a busy intersection is a distraction, not an enrichment.

I’ll make the left on Michigan.

Your thoughts?
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  • Sounds like it was a good idea.

    My wife and I had a good discussion on public art. She's not a fan because she is a fine artist. Public Art just reached for a lower common denominator, well she can speak for herself.

    I lived and worked in Chicago during the Cows on Parade summer of 99. It would not have been possible to re-route your path to avoid the truly hideous works of art that were everywhere. And I worked in tourism so they were a major part of my world.

    I just have lower standards for public art after that. If it gets someone out of their own head for just a moment to realize they are in a world worth paying attention to, then it meets my criteria. If you would rather be in your own head, make the turn.

    I will miss no opportunity to drive by the gigantic dinosaurs on Illinois. I miss the Optical sculpture on Broad Ripple Ave. The stainless steel bean is Millenium Park is an artistic triumph to rival the Picasso.

    Who knows, in time we may feel the same way about our newest party guest.
  • When I went for a run earlier this week on a gloomy afternoon, I was happy to pass Ann. I actually purposefully ran up Alabama to run on the Cultural Trail. I don't see Ann daily, but I do like seeing her. I lot of public art just blends in over time...I think Ann will be noticed for years to come without just blending in to the streetscape.
  • I for one am looking forward to hanging out with Ann this summer while having cocktails at Old Point. I think it's great for the trail and for Mass Ave. While I don't love all of Opie's work, I think for a public piece, this works really well.
  • Count me among the Ann fans. I think it's a bit of fun play with the iconography of urban life. Plus, I'm a sucker for chicks in go-go boots.
  • We'll just have to agree to disagree. I love Ann. And even though you find her annoying, she loves you.
  • The funny thing is yesterday I took Alabama because I wanted to hit Marsh before I went to the gym (not realizing they didn't open until 7am...natch). Anyway, Ann was malfunctioning. On one side, she was flashing (lights not her..well), and it was pretty annoying.

    Other than that, I think it fits in well with Mass Ave. So, it was a good purchase.
  • I can't believe you're actually making detours to avoid a piece of art. Ann Dancing enlivens that intersection, especially for the Cultural Trail's primary audience: pedestrians.

    I also think it's funny that she's the only person moving at times, in a car-dominated landscape. I loved the LED pieces in Julian Opie's show here last year. In the context of Indy they were saying, C'mon people! Try walking! This is how you do it!

    PS: If you consider a moving LED a distraction while driving, it means you're getting old. ;-)
  • For more commentary and to watch Ann dance visit: http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/2008/02/23/ann-me/
  • Well Ann isn't as hideous as the girl who hung out at the corner of Maryland and Illinois. She looked like a street walker to me. I am not a fan of any of Opie's work and I am part of the camp that feels Indianapolis should feature Indiana artists. I'll ignore Ann like I ignored the other Opie art.
  • I love ann because she is my niece. She was the model and although I could never afford to come to the states and see the artwork, it's great to see it on the web although she does look better in real life

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