Here’s the thing about publicly-placed art works—they are going to piss some people off. Artist Kenji Yanobe’s 20ft. tall “Star Child” depicting a cartoon-like boy in a radiation suit in Fukushima, the city that experienced a devastating earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 which claimed nearly 19,000 lives, did just that.
We set up the statue as a symbol of people striving for reconstruction but have come to judge that the statue is not accepted by many citizens,” Fukushima mayor Hiroshi Kohata
Yanobe, whose work deals with nuclear holocaust, intended the statue to “cheer people up” by depicting a child braving a difficult situation. If you ‘read’ the sculpture, the boy is holding his helmet and his chest-mounted radiation counter reads “000” all signs signaling it’s safe. The majority of locals surveyed had a different, negative reading so the sculpture, which went on display August 3rd, will be removed “as soon as possible”.
A classic case of public outcry over public art was Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc”, which showed up in Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan back in 1981.
Serra said of the design, “The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer’s movement. Step by step, the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes.”
Most people who worked in the area found the sculpture ugly and intrusive and “Tilted Arc” was removed in 1989 as the result of a Federal lawsuit.
I think it’s safe to say many people prefer their art behind closed doors.