Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stolen LEGOs

Yesterday, NewYorkology reported on the LEGO fill-in artwork of Jan Vormann, who has been patching up the city's holes with colorful LEGO bricks. They started here, at the 10th Avenue wall of the General Theological Seminary:

photo: NewYorkology

I like the LEGO fill-in idea. It has an Easter egg-hunt quality to it.

At the same time, I wonder if it might be part of the cute-ification of New York--part of that "tsunami of cute" that Jim Windolf wrote about in Vanity Fair a few months ago. It's the stuff of cupcakes, puppies, and bright-colored toys--the infantilization of an entire culture.

Windolf refers to the essayist Daniel Harris, author of the book, Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic, who argues that to make something cute is to disempower it. Is that what has happened to the city? Is castration by cuteness what Bloomberg helped bring to New York?

The LEGO artist says on his website that he came "to New York City...to support Mayor Bloomberg in his everyday-struggle to make this city even more amazing."

Well. Maybe I'm reading too much into it all, trying to make connections where there are none. Maybe it's just a cute street-art project and not part of a larger, collective-unconscious mission to make New York more palatable to the rest of the world.

photo: DispatchWork

As a post-script to all this, Gothamist picked up NewYorkology's story and a commenter wondered, "So how do they prevent people from stealing the legos?"

Answer: They don't.

On the same day the story broke onto the blogosphere, this LEGO fill-in, with its teeny little door, was found ripped out of the Seminary wall. Was it taken by a smitten collector? Or destroyed by an enemy of cuteness? We may never know.


Susan May Tell said...

maybe it was taken by someone with good taste - who realized that it was inappropriate for and our of context with the current building surface.

thejodi said...

Doesn't matter who stole it. Long as it got stolen. Not that I didn't like it, I did. I like little surprises like that - it's another aspect of random art, like Jim Power, the mosaic man. But - as long as things are still stolen here and there in NY we're still good and I have hope that all is not lost to Disney and NYU (although I wouldn't put it past the NYUers...)

BrooksNYC said...

Before reading this post, I'd have been intrigued to discover a Lego in a wall, so I'm pissed at you for framing it as evidence of a conspiracy.

Now I'll see cuteness everywhere, and be ENRAGED.

Anonymous said...

I like the guy years back that used to paint the splashy looking poodles in like three big brush strokes on the bottoms of buildings.

Cute-ification has to end.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I think the Legos are more cool than cute and I'd love to see them used to fill potholes and top some of those unfinished high-rise projects. They illustrate the one-dimensional plastic culture that's seeping into the cracks of this city.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Goggla, i like your interpretation--very nice!

and, Brooks, don't fret--you can still like them. i also enjoy kittens.

Bruce Parker said...

I'm communications officer at General Seminary. Lot's of folks here at the school liked Vormann's installation in our wall but it was gone before anyone got to see it except in photos. The artist sent me a nice note of appreciation however. -Bruce

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Bruce. i did wonder if the seminary removed it, though i figured it was most likely stolen.

BrooksNYC said...

"Brooks, don't fret--you can still like them. i also enjoy kittens."
- - - - - -
Understand: I have no problem with cuteness per se. It's America's genetically-encoded worship of cuteness that makes me want to climb the nearest bell tower with an Uzi.

bparker said...

No, everyone here at GTS (including our ExecVP) thought it was great--all the more so since Jan uses teams of kids in creating these installations.

Anonymous said...

Legos are kind of expensive, so maybe a kid stole them so he could play with them.

Anonymous said...

Hey. In the spirit of supporting "Mayor Bloomberg in his everyday-struggle to make this city even more amazing." Maybe this guy could fill-up cracks and holes by troweling them with all the dog shit people leave around (especially in the EV)

Jill said...

On any given day if you rummage through my husband's pockets you will find legos that he has picked up from the street. He says that if you look, they are everywhere.