After being held up for ten days in U.S. customs, Esterio Segura’s public art piece Adiós mi amor (Goodbye My Love) was finally installed late last month in a pedestrian passageway just off Times Square. We caught up with the artist for a quick conversation about the work and its coming to midtown Manhattan.
For those who aren’t familiar with Goodbye My Love, how would you describe it?
The airplane is a reference that flashes through my work for several poetic reasons. Because of this, I decided to undertake a project that would focus on the different meanings of the airplane as a symbol worldwide. This larger project has been titled “No todo lo que vuela sea come” (Not All That Flies Is Eatable). Goodbye My Love belongs to this series. It’s one of the issues I explore.
In this work, the reference to the airplane hybridizes with a reference to another well-known universal symbol: a simplified image of the heart. This is fused with an easily understood title with several meanings, from the most corny and sentimental to the most controversial, from a political and social standpoint. With this work, I reference the experience of uprooting, nostalgia, memory, loss—how we experience the breakdown of everything we love…
Over the years, you’ve made many projects—drawings, sculptures, installations—exploring the idea of airplanes. Often they are hybrids of airplanes and other things, like animals or other machines. How does Goodbye My Love fit into this progression?
Adiós mi amor can be described as a simplified translation, into the language of art, of the experience of a feeling: the experience of departure, going away, rupture.
At the same time that Goodbye My Love is on view in New York, an exhibition of your drawings, How to be a Whale and Love a Cat, has been on view at Salt Fine Art gallery in Laguna Beach, California. How do your drawings relate to your three-dimensional projects?
The works displayed in Salt Fine Art are a selection of drawings, prints and three-dimensional works, referring to different projects I´m working on. Goodbye My Love belongs to one of these projects.
Last spring, Goodbye My Love was installed in Terminal 3 of Havana’s José Martí International Airport, as part of the 11th Havana Biennial. When you conceived the work, were you thinking of it as part of a setting like that—a place of journeys, departures, and separations? What did the airport setting bring to the work and the way people perceived it?
As a space of comings and goings, the airport is a place with a close and direct relationship to the work, and the burden of all the experience it refers to. The work has been created for any public space or any airport in the world used by travelers from different parts of the globe.
Now the work is installed in one of New York City’s busiest blocks, in a passageway used by thousands of pedestrians every day. As a setting, it’s not as much about emotional separation as about getting to work on time or finding a pleasant spot for a moment’s pause. In a setting like this, how would you like viewers to understand the work? What would you like New Yorkers to take away from the experience?
The work is at the center of one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, where so many different things happen every day, in a part of the city that keeps up a barrage of images, icons, and information, all day, every day. It is first of all a challenge, and then a chance to talk with one of the world’s most demanding public. It makes Goodbye My Love very special.
Tell us about the process of installing the work in this space. Were there challenges or perhaps surprises?
It has been very difficult to carry out this project. I´ve had the support from all of the institutions involved, which have kept an eye on every detail of its implementation. This was especially important with a work of this size coming from Havana straight to New York.
Happily, after much waiting and uncertainty—and for me, the emotions of a father waiting for his children from the other side of the border—we finally have the work in Times Square, where it can begin its dialogue with the public.
Anything more you’d like us to know?
I could not end without thanking all the institutions and individuals who helped this project become a reality, and to thank all the people and things I love and to whom I can always say, “Goodbye My Love.”
Goodbye My Love is on view through May 13 in the pedestrian passage that runs between West 42nd and 43rd Streets on the block between 6th Avenue and Broadway.