See, by flipping the standard subway map 90-degrees, Manhattan becomes a big dick, thrilled by the death of Osama Bin Laden. (For an extra “ew,” the train lines are veins.) The project is the work of the street artist Beast, who calls the work “Unexpected Improvements,” probably in reference to how much the subway usually sucks. After the jump, see tourists touch it. (UPDATE: We did a little Q&A with the artist, which you can read below.)
Before we posted the above photos, we emailed Beast a few questions and he got back to us later in the afternoon. (In a few instances, we cleaned up what appeared to be broken English.)
For those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself and the art you’re known for.
I’ve been trying to do some street art stuff since 2010. I did some in Milan, Berlin, L.A. and this one in Manhattan is my latest. On my website you can see my archive.
What was the idea behind the “Bin is out” piece? Did flipping the subway map occur to you just recently or was the Bin Laden context added afterwards?
Well, I’ve always seen the MTA’s Manhattan map as a limp dick. Who hasn’t seen it before? But after the capture and killing of Bin Laden I wanted to spread a positive, ironic message. We all know that Manhattan has suffered for the past ten years from terrorism, and nobody knows what’s next. In the meanwhile, something hilarious can help.
Based on the title, “Unexpected Improvements,” and the text at the bottom, this poster seems to be a comment on the MTA, but the Bin Laden reference maybe overshadows that and makes the “excitement” about the city’s mood after his death. Did you intend it one way or the other?
I think the MTA’s claim: “improving — non stop” is much more funny than mine! They’re improving so much that “unexpected improvements” could occur…
Where did you install the piece?
I chose ten different subway entrances, on different lines, from 110th St. to 14th St.
Is it still up anywhere? How long can you typically expect a public work to remain in place?
No, I think they’re all down. Usually my prints never last more than a couple of days. But I can see some differences between different cities: in L.A. I hung 25 billboards during a weekend without any problem, and really nobody cared about what I was doing there,
instead of Milan where I had just a one-hour performance inside the Duomo Gallery before police removed them and ordered an inquiry about me.
But in the end, it’s all about location, dimensions and subject, of course. Compared to some “street art monsters,” I am just a kid.
Did you stick around to photograph people interacting with this one?
You know, removal is part of the game, my only chance to testify to the action is taking some pictures of it. And I love when someone makes a laugh about something I did.
That’s the reason I keep on doing it.
This post was originally published on May 24, 2011, at 11:43 a.m. ET.