The Statue of Liberty has been perched in the New York harbor for around 135 years, when a ceremonial dedication was presided over by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. With her arm raised towards the great blue void and head held high, she is so many things to so many people: a welcoming figure for those just arriving in America, as well as a complicated symbol of this country, and on occasion, someone who asks for money for photos in Times Square. Now, she is yet another thing: a reclining statue you can take selfies with while contemplating the end of America.
Reclining Liberty, a new statue by Zaq Landsberg located in Morningside Park, shows the iconic figure in repose, taking inspiration from the reclining Buddha, an iconographic theme in Buddhist art. And it’s just sitting in the north end of the park waiting for YOU to come recline with it.
“The piece, coated in plaster resin, is sturdy enough to allow viewers to touch, climb, sit atop, lean up against the figure, and interact with the monument at a human level,” Landsberg said. “Finished with copper paint and an oxidizing acid, the patina mimics the actual Statue of Liberty.”
Landsberg, who has exhibited solo shows in other NYC parks and spaces including Socrates Sculpture Park, Bronx Community College, Old Stone House, and Governors Island, specializes in large-scale, site-specific sculpture. And much of his work involves “things that look like other things.”
As for this piece, which is being displayed as part of NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program, he adds, “By merging the traditional Buddhist reclining pose and the quintessential American figurative symbol, Reclining Liberty asks the viewer to contemplate the status of the ideals the Statue of Liberty represents. Is the U.S. as an entity forever upright and tall, is it an eventual decline and fall, or is there another stage for the country that will transcend this symbol altogether. After all the events of 2020, and the unmooring of pretty much every American institution, this question is not just theoretical.”
You can find the 25-foot-long sculpture near 120th Street on top of a hill on the east side of Morningside Park. It will be there through April 2022.