Kennedy Plaza is one of the places in Providence where everyone converges. Roughly 40,000 people pass through every day, including RIPTA commuters, pedestrians, Downtown workers and tourists – as well as llamas, a 14′ angel and creatures from outer space.
In February, we worked in partnership with RIPTA to install four sculptures by Rhode Island-based, Peruvian-born sculptor Peruko Ccopacatty in Kennedy Plaza. The plaza is one of our city’s most important public spaces, and the goal of projects like this is to activate that space in a way that is inclusive, interactive, engaging and, to put it simply, fun. Installing the art is just one step in that process. The next part is to is create programming and activity around that art. This provides opportunities for people to do more than just passively observe the work. And that’s where the intergalactic creatures come in.
Throughout the remaining weeks of winter and into the spring, Big Nazo will be staging a series of “Installation Invasions” in Kennedy Plaza. No one knows how to create random, accessible fun in public space quite like they do. Their wonderfully weird puppet creations are a familiar sight at events all around Providence, but there is much more method to their madness than audiences may realize. They have decades of experience activating public spaces all over the world – as founder Erminio Pinque explained in a 2016 TED Talk.
The first Invasion happened on an unseasonably warm day during February vacation. The performers of Big Nazo had the opportunity to introduce some children to Ccopacatty’s work and help them understand the value of public art.
They returned the following week with aliens who brought their own “Metal Sculpture Robots” to pose alongside Ccopacatty’s metal figures. They used silence, strange music played through a mobile bullhorn and group “freeze poses” to create living sculpture.
By mixing static art with performance art, Big Nazo is helping us activate Kennedy Plaza and providing people with new ways to engage with Ccopacatty’s sculptures. We often pass through the city everyday without really taking note of our surroundings; even large-scale art can blend into the background of the daily bustle. The presence of Big Nazo’s creatures changes that context, reminding us that the city can surprise and delight us during otherwise mundane moments like crossing a street or waiting for a bus. As Pinque said in his TED Talk, “Just by walking down the street and offering a pedestrian an explosion of newness and weirdness in their day, we do our part to make the world a stranger place.”
The next Installation Invasion is planned for Friday, March 9 at 4pm in Kennedy Plaza. (Schedule is subject to change without notice.)