Walking Men Worldwide™ is a photographic collage of pedestrian traffic images from cities around the world, collected by Maya Barkai in collaboration with hundreds of professional and amateur photographers. In January 2010, the project made it’s debut on the construction site of 99 Church Street in Manhattan, NYC, in Walking Men 99™, a public art installation that joins together photographs of 99 pedestrian traffic lights icons printed in humane scale. This installation, which is now approaching its third year of display, and was commissioned by the Alliance for Downtown New York and Artea Projects, was followed by a series of public art projects, including Walking Men PERMM (September 2010), a public art installation in collaboration with the PERMM Museum of Contemporary art in Russia, and Men At Work (October 2010) as part of the Bat Yam International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism in Israel, followed by the most recent installation of Men At Work NYC, surrounding World Trade Center – Tower 4 in Ground Zero, since September 11th, 2011.
ABOUT MAYA BARKAI
Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Barkai is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’ Photography Department (BFA 2005), and has been based in New York City for the past nine years. She spent her military service in the Israeli Defense Forces as a military photographer for the IDF Official Magazine, “BaMachaneh”. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, and she is the recipient of the National Press Photographers Foundation Grant. Barkai’s work was included in the Sony World Photography Awards, W Magazine’s Next Fashion Photographer’ Showcase, and the George Eastman House Photography Museum. Maya’s most recent projects include Men At Work, surrounding the construction site of World Trade Center – Tower 4, as well as Walking Men 99™, a site-specific Public Art Installation, on site of the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel in NYC’s Downtown area, both part of the Re:Construction Program by the Alliance for Downtown New York. Additional projects include Walking Men PERMM, a public art installation in collaboration with the PERMM Museum of Contemporary art in Russia, and Men at Work as part of the Bat Yam International Biennale for Landscape Urbanism in Israel.
Additional information about Maya Barkai can be found here: www.mayabarkai.com
WALKING MEN WORLDWIDE™ STATEMENT
The subject of this project started with one of New York City’s most familiar street icons, one that repeatedly appears in the pedestrian traffic light we meet every day. As one of NYC’s most recognizable figures, the ‘walking man’ is also an international celebrity, a graphic sign that transcends all languages and places, and appears in various forms around the world as an integral part of our urban landscape.
Numerous traffic-light-characters represent the modern “Walking Men”. Standardized yet diverse, they commonly show us the correct and safe way of travel. Driven directly from the associative vocabulary of urban circulation, I use these conceptually similar symbols to create photographic compositions and juxtapositions that combine the cultural representation of cities around the world. As a result, my assorted collection of generic icons comes to life as a united group, now charged with a symbolic metaphor. The ‘Walking Men Worldwide’ project is a subjective interpretation that carries this message through photographic reportage, depicting a visual fragment from our daily reality.
In the spirit of NYC’s multi-cultural make-up, the project is also a collaborative effort of international photographers, each adding a piece from their own neighborhood to the collage of images that together form our world. Together on one canvas, these life-size figures invite the audience to recognize, connect, and perhaps provoke a dialogue around this simple yet special icon.
PRESS RELEASE – WALKING MEN 99™, A PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION BY MAYA BARKAI
99 Church Street, NYC – January 16th, 2010 through January 15th, 2011
The Downtown Alliance public art program initiative Re:Construction is pleased to announce the debut of Walking Men 99™, this January 2010.
Located on the construction site of 99 Church Street in Manhattan, Walking Men 99™ is a site-specific public art installation that joins together photographs of 99 pedestrian traffic lights icons from cities around the world, created by artist Maya Barkai.
Driven from the vocabulary of urban circulation and metropolitan life, the “walking man” figure is an international symbol that appears in various forms in cities worldwide, transcending all cultures and languages. The traffic-light ‘walking men’ come to life in Walking Men 99™ as they are juxtaposed with one another, taking on a newly charged symbolic metaphor of worldwide significance. The individual images were created as part of Barkai’s Walking Men Worldwide™ project, through a process of collaboration with professional and amateur photographers from around the world. The project is a cultural representation and a subjective interpretation of our urban environment.
Barkai’s project began in 2004, during Mayor Bloomberg initiative to replace the standard traffic light signs with ”more pedestrian friendly” symbols. Barkai noticed New York City’s pedestrian character, and gradually began photographing different representations of similar icons around the world. The ‘walking man’ is an international celebrity and one of our most recognizable figures, says Maya Barkai “Standardized yet diverse, they commonly show us the safe way of travel”.
As the project slowly took shape, research revealed fascinating urban stories relating to the ‘walking man’ as a unique social entity in its own. One can be seen in East Berlin’s Ampelmannchen (=little traffic-light man), which has come to be seen as a nostalgic sign for the former German Democratic Republic. It was created in 1961 by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau, who theorized that people would respond better to traffic signals if presented by a friendly figure; and so, a red light extends his arms to signal “stop”, as the green-hated-man confidently strides ahead to signal “go”.
The project will open this January 2010 and will run for a year. The installation, 500 feet long, comprises of 99 “walking men” printed in life-size scale and stretched along three street façades, starting at 99 Church Street, and continuing on Park Place and Barclay Street.
Re: Construction is a public art program produced by The Downtown Alliance with the supportive help of LMDC and Silverstein properties. The project is curated by Ayelet Daniele Aldouby and Elinor Milchan of Artea Projects.
For more information about the curators, Re:Construction Program, and Alliance for Downtown New York please visit:
Click here to view more installation images of Walking Men 99™