Paul Pfeiffer: Still Life, presented by ICP in partnership with MTA Arts & Design, features site-specific artwork by artist Paul Pfeiffer in the cultural corridor of Grand Central Madison, a new 700,000-square-foot Long Island Rail Road terminal below Grand Central along Madison Avenue between 43rd and 48th Streets in Manhattan.
Still Life pays homage to the iconic New York City street performer “Da Gold Man” with large-scale photographs installed in double-sided light boxes. It will be the first in a series of site-specific public art installations commissioned and curated by ICP for Grand Central Madison. Still Life is curated by ICP's Executive Director David E. Little with Izzy Dow.
About the Project
New York based artist Paul Pfeiffer has created internationally celebrated works of video, photography, installation, and sculpture since the late 1990s. Known for his inventive manipulation of digital media, Pfeiffer uses photographs to explore the relationship between image production, consumer culture, and daily life.
Still Life was made in collaboration with the iconic street performer known as “Da Gold Man,” who has appeared as a living statue on the sidewalks of Times Square for over seventeen years. Covered in gold and standing motionless on a common milk crate, Da Gold Man fascinates and enthralls passersby with his uncanny, statue-like presence. When amazed audiences drop money in his tip box, he moves as a sign of appreciation.
For this project, Pfeiffer removes Da Gold Man from his usual spot on the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street and installs him within the infinite white space of a commercial advertising studio—a seamless backdrop typically used to photograph high-end jewelry, designer fashions, and other luxury products. The pictures resulting from this unlikely mixture blur the line between studio portraiture and product photography.
Still Life explores the power of art to alter our awareness of the everyday world. Like Da Gold Man, Pfeiffer’s photographs blur the line between personal identity and manufactured commodity. Their scale, detail, and alluring presentation slow down the act of seeing, revealing a being that is simultaneously human and object. Forever suspended in time, Pfeiffer invites us to view the living statue as a cipher of the contemporary moment, and to consider both what we can—and cannot—see.
About Paul Pfeiffer
Born in Honolulu in 1966, Paul Pfeiffer grew up between Hawaii and the Philippines before moving to New York in 1990 to attend Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. Pfeiffer is known for his highly sophisticated use of digital technologies and new media, and has created celebrated works of video, photography, installation, and sculpture since the late 1990s. Using digital erasure, magnification, and repetition, Pfeiffer samples and retouches images or video footage from sporting events, concerts, game shows, and Hollywood films to enhance their psychological effects. By drawing attention to certain aspects of visual culture and concealing others, he underlines the spectacular nature of contemporary media and its consumption.
Pfeiffer has had one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2001); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2003 and 2017-18); the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2005); MUSAC León, Spain (2008); the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2009) and Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany (2011). Pfeiffer has presented work in major international exhibitions in recent years, including the Performa Biennial (2019), the Honolulu Biennial (2019), the Seoul Mediacity Biennial (2022) and the Toronto Biennial (2022). His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Inhotim Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Inhotim, Brazil; the Pinault Collection, Venice; and Kunst Werke, Berlin, among others.
Images: Paul Pfeiffer, details from Still Life, presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts & Design, © 2022 Paul Pfeiffer, curated by the International Center of Photography, New York, NY December 2022 – May 2023.