Broadway Billboard: Welcome
The ocean’s shore is a site of encounter, evocative of America’s complicated history of conquest, freedom, colonialism, opportunity and immigration, as well as the ongoing arrival of displaced people. The beach is a threshold between countries and possibly symbolic of the larger global debate about immigration – to welcome or refuse. Guillaume Légaré’s Broadway Billboard, created in response to Socrates’ Open Call / Call to Action, is apropos to the ideas of the public, citizenship, collectivism, identity, and democratic freedoms which were the subjects of the open call for billboard images.
Titled Welcome, Légaré’s billboard presents an ambiguous scene. An ordinary welcome mat faces the viewer, whose perspective looks out toward the sea. The orientation of the mat may suggest that the sight of the sea, in its sublime immensity and power, may be a welcoming tonic from the conflicts of contemporary society. Situated on Socrates’, which has its own shoreline, the image could be read as a tribute to the dynamic interface where water meets land. Alternatively, taking into account current events, is the mat welcoming refugees after a perilous journey to escape violence and poverty? Or do the waves represent a strong political tide washing out to sea this message of hospitality?
Québec City-born Guillaume Légaré remarks, “New York City is a harbor city and as such, has a long history of welcoming immigrants. As a recent immigrant to the United States, I like to examine the relationship between us and the territory, both urban and natural.
ABOUT THE BROADWAY BILLBOARD
The Park’s Broadway Billboard series launched in 1999 and has featured works by more than 30 artists, including Edward Burtynsky, Meschac Gaba, John Giorno, Douglas Gordon, Michael Joo, Los Angeles Urban Rangers, Wangechi Mutu, Catherine Opie, Duke Riley, and Hank Willis Thomas.
The 2017 selection is the first time a Broadway Billboard will be presented through an open competition. Titled Open Call/Call to Action, the competition was launched in the aftermath of the 2016 election and asked proposals to address ideas of ‘the public,’ citizenship, collectivism, representation, and democratic freedoms. Guillaume Légaré’s billboard, Welcome, will premiere on July 4, 2017, Independence Day.