High-profile art at airport removed for video wall

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.



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