This is the “Manhattan Oil Project” by Josephine Meckseper, down at the corner of 46th Street and 8th Avenue … in Manhattan. Oh yes, there are oil pump jacks (from Electra, Texas) plugging away down in Manhattan. All in the name of art, of course. There’s no actual oil, which would be a ridiculously crazy notion because Manhattan is basically rock due to the schist.
It’s just one of those weird juxtapositions, of the skyscraper versus the oil pump, of the quintessentially New York with the quintessentially Texas. It was fenced off with signs warning of danger, and although I knew it was meant as an art piece, there were obviously many other people who did not. It was interesting like that. It was less about the sculptures themselves (although the repetitive movement was quite relaxing to watch) and more about how people perceived the structures in a space such as downtown Manhattan. There were no indications that it was art, no signage to that effect, but even if one didn’t have the prior knowledge about Manhattan’s schist, there was still this sense that the oil pumps did not belong in that space.