Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some Second Impressions of "Ghost Ballet"

This morning I attended the installation ceremony of "Ghost Ballet" on the Shelby Street Bridge overlooking the sculpture that is Nashville's first public art project. Among other speakers, Mayor Bill Purcell and the artist, Alice Aycock, addressed the decent-sized crowd sprawling on the bridge over Ghost Ballet.

The artist described the sculpture as a snapshot or a moment suspended in time appearing on the East Bank in contrast to the modern tendency to wipe the old away. She mentioned its symbolic connections to Nashville's past and its modes of transportation. But Ghost Ballet also refers to the future and to the human quest to "inject" ourselves into space.

She nodded to popular interpretations of the sculpture as a roller coaster and mentioned her own childhood memories of a Pittsburgh amusement park. Accordingly, the sculpture is meant to convey feelings of weightlessness. The irregularly-shaped, free-standing disk that sits on the ground below the statue stands for the Industrial Revolution. It is the "dynamo," according to Aycock that generated all of the other aspects symbolized in Ghost Ballet.

I was no less impres-sed by Ghost Ballet today than I was when I first saw it from Broadway. Each of the elements of the sculpture seem grounded in Nashville's history and yet some are broader and--in the case of the future--transcendent of the Nashvillian aspects. Even if the sculpture has a roller coaster quality to it, rather than garnering disdain from the masses, it ought to appeal to the "bread-and-circuses" mentality of the same. If art did not start a debate, then I guess it would not fit the label "public." This is a good piece to call our first public artwork.

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