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Tunnel Tower

1979-80

New York and New Jersey, Tunnel Tower

Tunnel Tower, 1979-1980

Acrylic and Enamel on Wood and Masonite, with Glass, Metal, and Fluorescent, Neon and Incandescent Light, 138 x 56 x 62 inches

New York and New Jersey, Tunnel Tower

Tunnel Tower, 1979-1980

Acrylic and Enamel on Wood and Masonite, with Glass, Metal, and Fluorescent, Neon and Incandescent Light, 138 x 56 x 62 inches

Description

Tunnel Tower is in some ways my most fanciful piece. Inspired by the small building at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel that inspired Two Stories with Porch (for Robert Cobuzio), I chose this time to focus on what for me were the fantasy elements of the building: the resemblance of the building to a tower or castle and the scaffolding with its ladders, blinking colored lights, and neon lettering.

I wanted the scaffolding big and playful, and to do this I had to keep the building low. My problem was how to make a one-story structure feel like a tower: tower as secret place, as signal-sender, as lookout, as dungeon. I thought of White Castle and White Tower hamburger stands: one-story, miniature castles. Detail was what did it: turrets and crenolations.

The building came to represent for me a fortress: a small, warm, secret, personal place with a tough skin. The scaffold and sign mounted over it was about a revelation, a poignant beacon, a public calling across unfathomable distances. I saw the scaffold with its electricity as a fragile and complex nervous system rising out of the fortress, and its appearance marked a public celebration of private fantasy and feelings.

The scaffolding not only supports but even broadcasts the word TUNNEL, suggesting the brave surfacing of a vast underground network, a subterranean circulatory system; the revealing of something powerful and submerged; the making vulnerable of something submerged. One is forced to wonder about the secret source of energy, about the unseen, the unknown, and to feel its power.

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