High-profile art at airport removed for video wall

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Indianapolis International Airport officials say sponsors will pay for a controversial video-art installment that is replacing a prominent artwork on the bulkhead above the main escalator at the airport.

The LED video wall, measuring 22 feet wide by 7.5 feet tall, will feature what’s called the “On Screen” video series, curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, when it debuts in the first or second week of December.

Airport_chrysalis_2col "Chrysalis" was removed from the airport terminal Monday. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

The first program will be the video "Perm Press: The American Cycle," by Indianapolis artist Artur Silva. The video including American icons such as Abraham Lincoln and a Ferris wheel at the Indiana State Fair will play for 62 seconds. That’s about how long it takes to descend the nearby escalator to the baggage claim area.

The wall is also capable of displaying advertisements, a concept that created angst among some art fans when the controversial plan to remove Chrysalis, by local artist James Wille Faust, was revealed in August. The work was removed on Monday.

Officials said the wall is being sponsored at no cost to the airport by Sharp Electronics Corp. and Clear Channel Airports, the latter an airport advertising firm operating in 260 airports.

Financial details of the sponsorship were not immediately available, although one source said the video unit itself would carry a price tag of at least $300,000.

Airport officials have been trying to boost revenue amid the slow economy, which dampened earlier airport passenger and revenue forecasts.

“Whether leveraging new technology, adding new artwork to the airport experience, or harvesting new revenue streams during a persistent economic downturn, we make decisions to remain competitive and support our goal of being airport system of choice,” John D. Clark, CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said in a prepared statement.

Clark added that airport officials “regret” that the process affected Chrysalis.

Airport officials offered to move Chrysalis to the Indiana Convention Center. But Faust  rejected the offer. His wife, Martha, told IBJ that such a move would amount to “bastardizing” the piece, saying it was designed specifically for the prominent airport space.

The airport paid about $150,000 for Chrysalis, which was installed for the 2008 opening of a new passenger terminal. The terminal included a highly touted $4 million collection of public art by 17 commissioned artists and six poets.

Faust issued a prepared statement Tuesday morning that criticized the removal of his artwork.

"The act of removing "Chrysalis" by artist James Wille Faust at the Indianapolis International Airport in the middle of the night was a bypassing of the mayor's office, the City County Councilor's office, the arts community, and the citizens of the city of Indianapolis who have strongly supported this artwork and not its removal," the statement said. "We believe this defiant and perceived underhanded action speaks for itself."

Last January, the airport authority hired the Indianapolis Museum of Art under a one-year, $100,000 contract, to provide “curatorial, conservation and maintenance expertise” of the airport’s collection.

Silva was born in Brazil. His works include "On Procession Parade," which he created for the IMA in 2008. Some of his other works have been exhibited at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago and the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands.

Another "On Screen" work, to debut next June, will consist of photos by New York artist Nina Katchadourian from her "Seat Assignment" project.

“Katchadourian creates inventive landscapes, portraits, and still-life tableaus using pages torn out from in-flight magazines, pretzel crumbs, straws and other materials readily available between takeoff and landing,” said the airport authority.




  • I hope karma is real too
    Anything that's happened at the IMA over the past five years has been totally self-serving. This is but one more example of the institution thumbing its nose at the community. Let's hope a new director will embrace Indianapolis.
  • Chrysalis/Faust Art Studio
    We have suffered a great indignity to have "Chrysalis" removed by the director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, hired by the Indianapolis Airport Authority as a paid consultant. Together they were able to accomplish what could not be done alone, advertising under the auspices of art. It is a forever scar, we can only hope Karma is real!
  • watch your feet
    I have thought more about this and I am now more saddened that this happened. Our airport was unique and in some ways breath-taking. It was noticeable as someplace special, something unexpected. Now, it's going in the direction of an ordinary airport. Ho-hum, it's Naptown.
  • Nailed it
    Charles is right. This IS Max Anderson giving the city the finger. The whole episode is nothing more than Max Anderson's and Lisa Freiman's arrogance at work. They think we poor little Hoosiers couldn't possibly know good art. How about those Venice reviews, Max and Lisa?
  • Never Noticed
    I've been in that airport probably 50 times, at least - never noticed it. It's an AIRPORT, people, not an art museum. People come, people go. Get over it. It's all about commercialization. Where have you been? Under a rock? Put a racecar hanging up there if you want some effect. Good grief.
  • values
    I loved "Chrysalis". It was unique in all the airports in the world. It said "Hello" or "Welcome Home"with a smile. Now, a victim of the politics of the art world, and the greed of modern America. Why bother with architects, or designers, or even color and texture. Make it all concrete and steel. Totally agree on the Super Bowl video as well. No taste. Unattractive, untalented, badly dressed performers. Truly gross. The suits really have taken over. Totally embarrassing. What do you think ? Does that represent Indianapolis ?
  • art
    I can not believe a news story regarding this artwork has made such big news, it says very little about this little town. The artwork has been on display for 3 years plus . it is time to move the city forward. People should not try to micro manage
  • Really?
    Who watches TV when riding an escalator? Not me.
  • It all comes down to....
    "Art is in the eye of the beholder." Frankly 'Chrysalis' was sort of garish but also complicated enough to require more than one minute to really absorb what was going on. Maybe it will end up where people can take more time to figure it out. Let's give the new "art" a chance before passing judgement.
  • Sigh
    This decision is almost as ridiculous as the cringingly embarrassing Super Bowl video released by VisitIndy yesterday. If the people in charge of how Indianapolis presents itself to the country have no taste or class, what difference do our individual efforts make?
  • Such a shame....
    Any way you look at it [no pun intended], the travelers in and out of the Indianapolis International Airport are the losers here. If I want to look at video replicas of art I can look at my computer all day long, but to see an original work, to watch how light plays with it and to simply appreciate the artist's craft is something that cannot be fully experienced by looking at a video screen.

    It is easy to see the handwriting on the wall here. The airport seems to have bought only a little time with the IMA contract, but one day, our visitors will probably see ads for car rentals and hotels...

  • Max Anderson Gives Indy The Finger
    As his farewell tribute to Indianapolis, Max Anderson and the IMA, with its one year "curatorial, conservation and maintenance expertise” contract, have allowed their appetite for branding Indy with Max's vision of the IMA as cultural arbiter to override the will of the people and our political institutions. I'm disgusted. Sure hope the revenues from the interspersed advertisements will be sufficient to pay for John Clark's lifestyle.
    • So bad, so sad
      If airport officials truly regret "that the process affected Chrysalis," then why did they do it? I'll be very interested to see what appears in that space over the months and years to come. I loved the Faust piece and will miss it being my "Welcome home" each time I leave the airport. One more win for greed, one more loss for aesthetics. It's truly sad. In my view, this kind of decision-making looks like ignorance on parade.
    • Such a sad statement
      I've always thought that art installment was the most beautiful welcome we could have provided visitors to Indy, and it was a classy landmark, an icon, for our airport. What a shame that the airport's investment in that artwork, and the art itself was considered disposable. Sure says a lot about the airport's management. That kind of bottom-line mentality is what needs upgrading, not the space above the escalators, for Indy to not be forever thought of as hick town. Way to go, Airport Authority, for losing the respect of most of our city.
    • watch your feet
      Trying to visualize how this would work for me -- watching moving images flit around on a screen with my eyes while navigating a moving escalator with my feet while managing my carry-ons with my hands. Disaster in the making -- I'll be looking for an elevator.

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