Client: Kite Pharma
Location: Santa Monica, CA, United States
Completion date: 2023
A turnstile placed along a pedestrian walkway appears completely ordinary from a distance, until one ponders its enigmatic purpose, and notices the unexpected, decorative back panel and reads the artwork’s plaque.
The fully functional, dual rotating, handicap-accessible turnstile has a mechanical counter on its top surface that advances by one number each time someone passes through. Wave-like, rippling water imagery flowing in either direction, mirrors the turnstile’s cyclical arm movement and pedestrians passing. Whoever sits on the bench faces the panel.
The recording of a momentary physical action by an individual is absurdly pointless, yet oddly poignant. Their unique experience is translated to a digit in an ongoing numerical flow. Instead of drawing attention to itself, the sculpture nudges viewers to ask, “Who am I? How do I (or we) matter?”
A key consideration was striking the balance between presenting a familiar object that the public would have no hesitation to touch and use, yet have enough ‘artistic’ intervention to identify the object as fine art sculpture that could elicit a poetic, contemplative or humorous response.
Site-specific conditions included creating artwork durable for one year or more outdoors, relevancy for one-time visitors as well as repeated viewing by regular passerby and company employees, plus a modest budget. The installation seeks to provide the industrial corporate environment with beauty, poetry and a sense of play. A commercial product is altered by adding a hand-painted, organic, curvilinear element, then installing the item in an unusual location. This transforms the turnstile's mundane purpose of submissive crowd control to an interactive invitation to contemplate (and potentially celebrate) one's agency and individuality.
The artwork's message is open-ended, slowly revealing its layers of meaning the further one interacts and possibly discovers its title. “Memorial For Those Who've Passed” was conceived during the pandemic, only months after the artist's father died from Covid-19.
Kite Pharma is a local biotechnology company, whose singular focus is cell therapy to treat and potentially cure cancer. Their Santa Monica, California location has a publicly accessible outdoor walkway, dotted with sculptures for rotating, long-term exhibitions. “Memorial For Those Who've Passed” is a site-specific temporary commission.
Alvarado, a local turnstile manufacturer, agreed to customize and assemble an older unit as a donation to the project.
Long-time collaborator, Rick Mione, performed the onsite installation, and assisted in fabricating the water jet cut aluminum sheet, hand-painted by the artist with colored epoxy. The design's silhouette is derived from “Red and White Plum Blossoms” by Ogata Korin, 18th Century, Japan.