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Sliding Scale – NYC’s Playground

A neighborhood news aggregating site recently noted that Tom Otterness’ gigantic sculpture and slide combo “Playground” had become a destination for the Gotham toddler set.

Otterness Playground.The roundy-headed bronze behemoth has been reclining on a patch of artificial turf on West 42nd Street for over a year, in a public park adjacent to the twin 50-story Silver Towers (built by developer Larry Silverstein, he of drawn-out Ground Zero insurance lawsuit fame). The green space and play area seem to be an attempt to add whimsy to what is otherwise an entirely alien vision of a neighborhood: at once futuristic, luxurious, and intimidating.

Otterness Playground.Otterness originally created “Playground” in a limited edition of six in 2007. According to an article in the New York Times, the guessimate is that Silverstein paid 1.2 million dollars for his very own high art kiddie hangout. What’s really amazing about the placement of the piece is how — even though it was not originally designed for the site — the metal Lilliputians tucked in corners and crevices of the giant perfectly echo how tiny and insignificant actual people look when dwarfed by the looming apartment buildings.

Maybe I’m reading a lot into this, but Otterness has made his mark by cleverly combining irresistible cuteness with social commentary. Commuters love his roly poly figures that populate the 14th Street subway platforms. Are they a biting critique of Capitalism (admittedly referencing the greed of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall)? Or simply adorable metallic moppets that are fun to rub for good luck on your way to buy a lunchtime lottery ticket? Or both?

Otterness Playground.Anyway, the kids sliding down “Playground’s” bent legs and taking in the view from atop his neck perch didn’t seem to be musing upon life’s larger concerns. They were most likely pondering what flavor of ice cream best suits a summer afternoon.

[Post by Anne D. Bernstein]

Sections: Places, Statues Comments Off on Sliding Scale – NYC’s Playground Team Field Report

Giant Cartoon Man Playground Slide

W. 42nd St., New York, NY
The big man-slide is in a small playground next to Silver Towers. In midtown Manhattan, near the Hudson River, between 11th and 12th Aves and 42nd and 41st Sts.
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