Work to install a pirate ship on what once was the site of the old Sands Casino began Monday with the $3 million exhibit scheduled to be formally unveiled by week’s end.
The ship, which is the creation of Ilya and Emillia Kabakov, of Long Island, arrived in parts, and over the next couple of days will be assembled at the site, officials said. It will be one of three art pieces that will be featured in the lot bordered by the Boardwalk, Pacific Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Indiana Avenue.
The public art installation, which is expected to be completed by Friday, is the latest effort by tourism and casino leaders to better market Atlantic City and provide new attractions to both visitors and residents. The casino-industry funded Atlantic City Alliance and state-funded Casino Reinvestment Development Authority are splitting the cost of the project.
“It’s very interesting and it could potentially not only be a visitor attraction but an interesting gathering place for locals,” said Cindy Mason Purdie, the head of the Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.
New York City-based Fung Collaboratives curated the installation, titling it “Artlantic” and choosing which artists would contribute. Pirates and pirate ships are an appropriate subject considering Atlantic City’s history, Mason Purdie said.
“The ship relates back to the sea coast,” she said. “This area was well known for pirateers.”
Overlooking the ship will be sod-covered berms that partially encircle the boat, creating a series of landscape terraces, each at a higher elevation than the last. At its highest point, the landscaping then slopes downward toward the property edge along Pacific Avenue.
Positioned haphazardly along the slope and around the other side of the property will be words, which will sit 2 feet high off of the ground and be illuminated in different colors. They represent the second element of the art installation created by Robert Barry, 76,of Teaneck.
“The words are placed randomly throughout the area,” he said. “They’re kind of suggestive. They’re meant to engage.”
“Believe” was the first one installed Monday. In total, two dozen different words chosen by Barry, will be scattered throughout the site. The artist said he hopes the words will evoke a reaction from those who walk by or view the words from nearby high-rise buildings.
“Words — they speak to us,” he said. “It sort of rings some bell inside you.”
The third element of the installation, situated directly across from the ship, will be a sculpture garden designed by Kiki Smith.
While this installation is situated slightly off of the Boardwalk, another smaller art space featuring geometric shapes created by artist John Roloff cqsits right on the Boardwalk between Iowa and California avenues. That installation came at a cost of $500,000, also split between ACA and CRDA.
The pair of public art pieces are unlikely anything else in Atlantic City, and reactions to them are expected to be varied.
“It’s probably more out there than Atlantic City has seen in a long time,” Mason Purdie said. “It’s very difficult to say what the reception is going to be.”
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