Indianapolis International Airport removes artwork to make space for LED panel

One of the signature artworks in the passenger terminal at Indianapolis International Airport came down last night to be replaced by a large LED screen showing both artistic videos and advertising.

The new video wall is expected to debut by Dec. 8 showing a video titled “Perm Press, The American Cycle,” a work by Indianapolis artist Artur Silva that includes animation, video and photography.

It will hang in the three-story glass atrium above the main stairway and escalator of the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal building, where it will replace the sculptural painting “Chrysalis” by James Willie Faust.

Faust issued this statement by email this morning: “The act of removing Chrysalis by artist James Wille Faust at the Indianapolis International Airport in the middle of the night was a bypassing of the Mayor’s office, the City County Councilor’s office, the Arts community, and the Citizens of the City of Indianapolis who have strongly supported this artwork and not its removal. We believe this defiant and perceived underhanded action speaks for itself.”

The change was controversial in the Indianapolis art and culture community when proposed earlier this year. Faust said his work had been created specifically for the location in the architecturally enhanced terminal building, so he opposed moving the piece and refused to see it hung in the Indiana Convention Center or any other prominent location.

Airport officials said other options were studied, including moving the Faust artwork and moving the video wall. In the end, the decision is to install the video wall and put the art work in storage until another mutually agreed location can be found to display it.

“We regret that this process affected ‘Chrysalis,’ a much-admired piece that helped garner praise for our (airport art) program,” said John D. Clark III, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. “However, art will continue to complement and strengthen the award-winning beauty of our terminal and concourses.”

Consultants from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, hired to advise the airport authority about the art to be displayed in and around the terminal, support the change to contemporary works.

There are about 2,000 art works of many types throughout the building, seen by more than 7 million air travelers a year.

But in a recessionary economy, the airport authority has been looking for every source of revenue including spots in the building for advertising. The screen is expected to produce several hundred thousand dollars a year to the airport’s budget.

The new video wall is a giant LED screen made by Sharp. The electronics manufacturer donated the $300,000 wall of light that measures 22 feet wide by 7.5 feet tall.

The computer-controlled display of images on the screen will show at least one art video and several advertising messages that will scroll continuously on a loop.

Silva’s inaugural video is 62 seconds long, just the time of a ride up or down the escalator between the Civic Plaza and the lower level baggage claim area.

“Perm Press” is about the Brazilian-born artist’s fascination with American history and his interest in the way history repeats itself. The images in the video jump between the past and present, showing a mixture of familiar American icons such as pictures of Abraham Lincoln and the ferris wheel at the Indiana State Fair.

The commissioned art videos will be changed about twice a year.

The second to debut next June will feature a selection of photographs by Nina Katchadourian, an artist and a frequent flyer who has taken the pictures during her travels.




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