Since 1977, the Public Art Fund has been using City Hall Park as one of its premier outdoor galleries, bringing contemporary art to what is nowadays a surprisingly calm and pleasant greenspace in the Financial District.
The newest exhibition, titled The Language of Things, officially opened this week, with seven pieces scattered throughout the southern end of the park near the historic fountain.
The Language of Things "speaks to our innate attempts to understand and read patterns inherent to the world around us," says The Public Art Fund's website, and that's probably true. Most intriguing to me was Tino Sehgal's "This You," for which performers wander around the park from sunrise to sunset—when one of them catches your eye, he or she starts singing to you.
Sehgal hasn't given his singers a specific set list; instead they're instructed to burst into whatever tune immediately comes to mind when they see you. Twice I was serenaded: first with "Cabaret," and then with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." For the most part, passersby seemed delighted by these impromptu performances, which are brief but accomplished.
Other works of note include "The Italian Bunnies" by Claudia Comte, which features bunny ears sprouting from the grass near Broadway; Adam Pendleton's "Code Poem," made up of dots and dashes that double as seats; and "Ring Angels," a four-channel sound installation that plays an eighteen-minute looped recording of a murmuration of starlings. This last one is lovely.
The Language of Things will be at City Hall Park through September 29th.