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Michelangelo on Fifth Ave proposal





In 1996, a New York scholar in collaboration with curators at the Met made a remarkable claim: A lost sculpture by Michelangelo was sitting, unguarded, in the lobby of the French Consulate on Fifth Ave and 75th St.  Seventeen years later, art scholars from around the world have rigorously interrogated the audacious discovery, coming to a dramatic consensus that the Young Archer is indeed an early work by the Renaissance master, Michelangelo Buonarroti. 




"Investigation of the history of a work -- provenance research -- is inevitably multifaceted, often informed guess-work, and makes one feel very much like a detective"[1]





Following up on the Met’s world-class symposium about the sculpture, the adolescent Michelangelo's world, and the decade-plus contest over his authorship of the Young Archer, Reid Farrington is putting visitors to the Met in the shoes of the curator/conservators - chasing down proof, uncovering colorful characters in the sculpture's past, and ultimately leading to its decades long stint in New York. Employing Farrington's signature technique of blending live performance with projected video, museum goers will  themselves reveal the wild story of the sculpture's creation, history, and discovery.


Exploiting the youthful nature of the central characters (the “young” archer; a teenage Michelangelo; the ever-youthful Cupid) Michelangelo of Fifth Avenue imagines the controversy of the statue’s lineage as an adolescent “identity crisis” for the marble figure itself.  Homeless and uncertain of his provenance, parentage, and purpose, the statue is roiling under his cold marble surface with origin theories and confusions about who he is and where he belongs. (Is he a masterpiece; an early work?  Cupid or Apollo?  French, Italian?  Roman, Florentine?)





Partnering with Frank Boudreaux and Eric Bowers, Farrington has invented new ways to manipulate cutting-edge software and design technology so that the sculpture can 'come to life' in the Met visitors’ hands. 


The central point of focus is a 10’x10’ “Story Box,” activated by two multi-touch tables and the live performer inside. Through intuitive interaction with the table interfaces, museumgoers catalyze the performance of different prepared monologues and choreographed sequences. The single performer interacts with video projections of the colorful cast of characters the Young Archer has encountered in his globe-hopping life from a Medici garden in Florence 400 years ago to his unexpected resurrection at the Met. 



[1] The Met's own Associate Curator of European Sculpture, Peter Bell, describing his job as an art-historical investigator.

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