all images by Tom Powel | courtesy of the public art fund

It’s not everyday that all the pigeon poop on a 75-ft high outdoor marble statue is cleaned off. And it’s not everyday that a pre-eminent symbol of our new world is encased in a pent-house apartment with grand views of central park. And it’s not everyday we are allowed to enter that apartment, as we would a model living room at IKEA, to ponder the 120-year old sculpture by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo and enjoy an intimacy reserved only for the aforementioned pigeons. I am, of course, referring to Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus, which just opened two days ago.

Yesterday morning I took my free timed ticket, signed a release form and climbed more flights of stairs than residents living on the top floor of a walk-up apartment.

Nishi’s project re-imagines the colossal 13-foot-tall statue of Columbus standing in a fully furnished, modern living room. Featuring tables, chairs, couch, rug, and flat-screen television, the décor reflects the artist’s interpretation of contemporary New York style. He even designed wallpaper inspired by memories of American popular culture, having watched Hollywood movies and television as a child in Japan.

After the exhibition closes on November 18th, the structure will remain standing so that the statue can undergo a major restoration. Art restorers will undoubtedly feel lucky to be able to work in the comfort of someone’s living room.