The Statue of Liberty symbolizes people’s great opportunity to live out their dream whatever it may be, that anyone can wear many hats, but this statue however, wears many masks.
Paola Pivi is responsible for the High Line’s newest commission titled You know who I am standing proud upon a pedestal on the Northern Spur Preserve.
The large-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty (remember another one found snoozing in Morningside Park) is cast in bronze and stands 23 ft tall over 16th street. Depicting Lady Liberty wearing a cartoonish mask, the replica will alternate faces every two months. Each emoji-inspired mask (totaling to six throughout the statue’s residency) represents an individual’s story of freedom and their connection to the United States.
Onlookers will be able to admire You know who I am while catching a glimpse of the real-life Lady Liberty in the New York Harbor to the south.
Pivi is known for her rather bizarre works, typically “transposing live animals and common objects—ranging from helicopters to cappuccinos—to unexpected settings.” You may recognize her most famous works: Untitled (zebras), shown on the High Line Billboard in 2012, and 84 goldfish flying coach.
This replica statue was made at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan using a plaster cast of the original statue made by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi.
Each cartoonish face adds to the pieces powerful juxtaposition with its playful design and appearance in contrast to its underlying nod to the significant struggle and beacon of hope that the statue symbolizes.
Pivi began with her own journey in regards to her son’s battle for freedom and citizenship, as their family faced a 4-year legal battle to bring her son to the U.S. from India.
For the remaining five masks, Pivi pulled inspiration from other individuals’ stories and their ties to freedom and the United States. “For some, their story may be about having gained or hoping to gain greater freedoms upon entering the US; for others, the US may represent a denied dream of freedom.”
The statue will be on display from now until March 2023.
To learn more about the work, see here.