Atlantic Yards Without the Controversy

Isn’t everybody sort of sick of the controversy surrounding Atlantic Yards? Wouldn’t it be nice to just look at some


Isn’t everybody sort of sick of the controversy surrounding Atlantic Yards? Wouldn’t it be nice to just look at some pictures of people and places in and around the footprint and leave out all the anger (or, maybe even joy?) the project has generated?

Well, the Brooklyn Public Library hears you. Its Grand Army Plaza headquarters will next Tuesday re-mount the “Brooklyn Footprints” exhibit that debuted in October at a multi-cultural center in Prospect Heights, but in condensed form. About six works, including Aisha Cousins’s mixed-media piece, above, will be left out, according to Dan Sagarin, the co-curator of the original exhibit. (Cousins instead submited a different, less controversial image, that the library is exhibiting, Sagarin said.)

“I think it’s commendable that they want to address the Atlantic Yards issue, and as a public institution, they did not want to take sides,” Mr. Sagarin told The Real Estate.

He said library officials saw the exhibit when it was up at Grand Space last fall, and decided then not to take the more overtly critical pieces, including one very large portrait his sister, Sarah Sagarin, painted of arch-opponent Daniel Goldstein, as well as other, more abstract work. (For more slides of those included and omitted, see the “Brooklyn Footprints” Web site.)

“We could have said, you can take all of it or nothing, and we didn’t say that.” But, Mr. Sagarin continued, “It hurt me. I would have to tell some of our artists, whom I had begged to do these works in the first place, that they would not be shown at the library.”

The Real Estate left messages with the library on Thursday morning and will report its response. Its blurb for the exhibit goes like this: “Footprints: Over 30 artists present their interpretations of the ‘footprints’ of Bruce Ratner’s proposed redevelopment of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Rail Yards.”

Fortunately, one of the rejected artists, Donald O’Finn, knows some French, and he is mounting a “Salon des Refusés de la Bibliothèque de Brooklyn” at the condemned bar he manages, Freddy’s, with an opening Feb. 22.

“The only piece that I can see the slightest hesitation to exhibit in a public forum where children could experience it is my video piece called ‘The Burrow’,” O’Finn wrote in an e-mail, “because it is rather scathing and does have a moment or two of a cartoon penis becoming erect (from an old sex-education film) that visually pulls up an architectural image of the proposed stadium project from below screen. They also excluded my comical small illustration of the arena as a toilet bowl.”

À ta santé!

Matthew Schuerman

Atlantic Yards Without the Controversy