Banishing the Poets

The installation, commissioned for Mark di Suvero’s Socrates Sculpture Park on New York’s East River, was a 7x10 foot egg, made of layers of barbed wire and set in a nest of marsh grasses, backed by its title in large metal letters.

“The piece was the artist’s response to the censorship of NEA grantees, just then breaking in the news. She had in mind Plato’s banishing of the poets from his ideal republic because of their disruptive abilities. The egg fulfilled its mission of demonstrating how art can mean many things to many. It became an aviary and refuge for birds and small animals in the park. At the opening, a group of blind people gravitated toward the sculpture. It also made an appearance at a fundraiser for Artists Against Aids. Perhaps most poignantly, in regard to Bornstein’s earlier work, a young woman confided that the egg reminded her of her own seductive/violent relationship with a molesting stepfather. The egg’s protective image is combined with a threatening appearance that contradicts the security of parental “home”.

Lucy R. Lippard, Sliding into Place, 1998

7’ x 10’, barbed wire, rebar, marsh grasses
Commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, New York
Private Collection

Photos: Debera Johnson

Copyright © 2017 Gloria Bornstein