NEW YORK — Westfield World Trade Center is celebrating the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island by showing off its creativity. The fair runs from today to May 7.
Visitors to the subterranean mall and transportation hub in Lower Manhattan today will be able to collaborate in the making of a large-scale contemporary work of art by each painting one dot.
Artist Jonathan Horowitz is overseeing the participatory installation, called “1612 Dots,” which will be displayed in the Oculus for three consecutive weekends starting today. People are invited to paint, to their best ability, a perfect, solid black dot with an eight-inch diameter using only paint and a brush. Pencils, rulers and other tools that could help produce a more uniform dot aren’t allowed.
“Through the process of painting a dot, you have to come to terms with your limitations,” Horowitz said. “So the project is about acceptance, both of yourself and others. It felt especially right to stage the project in Lower Manhattan, with its history of welcoming immigrants and diverse cultural life.”
The exercise and resulting painting is intended to make a statement about the relationship between diversity and commonality. By creating a distinct dot, every participant becomes a painter and has the power to express his or her individuality. United in a shared event, the dots bring people of different backgrounds together as each dot contributes to the creation of a single canvas.
All of the dots will be hung together and connected to form one collective piece. Horowitz said the proximity of Westfield World Trade Center to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial gave the project added significance. “That’s why I wanted to do the project,” he said. “I thought it would resonate in a meaningful way with what happened then in New York City and what’s happening now in the country and the world. The project’s about acceptance, both of yourself and others. And it’s about coming together.”
This isn’t Horowitz’s first shot at dots. The artist began working on a black dot project in 2013. Horowitz asked 700 visitors to the 2015 Frieze Art Fair to paint the perfect dot and gave each participant a handmade $20 check as payment. He said he didn’t feel comfortable asking people to work for free, so he gave them a token gesture.
He put his dots to more commercial use. He collaborated with Opening Ceremony to create a small-run, unisex collection inspired by “700 Dots” featuring his recognizable polka-dot-on-canvas patterns. The collection included a field jacket, $250; five-pocket denim pant, $175, and tote bag.
The variety of visitors to Westfield World Trade Center provides an element of unpredictability to the work. “I’ve done participatory dot making projects before that were open to the public, but they were in art spaces, such as 356 Mission Road in L.A. and the Frieze in New York,” Horowitz said. “The people passing through the Oculus will likely not be there expecting to paint dots. So no, I really have no idea what to expect. I’m excited.”
Horowitz is pragmatic about his work with Westfield. “‘1612 Dots'” is not a collaboration with a company,” he said. “It’s just sponsored by one, like an exhibition in a museum. Only it’s in a transportation hub that’s surrounded by a lot of stores. The project with Opening Ceremony was more of a collaboration. I wanted to make polka dot fabric where every dot would be different, and fabric wants to be made into things. And Opening Ceremony makes things. When working with brands, every situation is different and particular. It costs money to make art and it costs money to make art shows.”
More From WWD: