East Village just got a controversial new art installation

Jul 19 2019, 4:07 am

If you happen to find yourself wandering on 5th Street Square in East Village, don’t be alarmed if you see a fascinating structure installed in the park.

The latest addition to East Village is a contraption by the late American artist and sculptor Dennis Oppenheim, known for his eclectic and sometimes outrageous artistic creations.


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The public art installation, “Device to Root Out Evil,” sits right in 5th Street Square and had previously called Calgary’s Ramsay neighbourhood its home from 2008 until 2014, as well as Venice and Vancouver before that.

“Device to Root out Evil” is an upside-down, New England-style church built so that its steeple is pointed into the ground.

The 7.5m tall sculpture is made from galvanized steel, perforated metal and Venetian glass.

Initially called, “Church,” the installation was created by Oppenheim who proposed funding from the New York City’s Public Art Fund so that it could be located on Church Street, where he lived at the time.

Ultimately, the art was considered so controversial that it was renamed before being installed as part of the 1997 Venice Biennale, instead.

In fact, Stanford University, despite approving the purchase of the piece in 2003, subsequently vetoed its purchase after the university’s president called it, “inappropriate for campus.”

Since then it has made its way to Vancouver, Calgary, and even Mallorca, before finally settling down in East Village today.

Device To Root Out Evil

Device To Root Out Evil, at Coal Harbour in Vancouver (Shutterstock)

While we are not entirely sure how long “Device to Root out Evil” will stay in the neighbourhood, East Village’s Instagram account hinted that the piece was on a five-year lease.

“It’s a very simple gesture that’s made here, simply turning something upside-down. Turning something upside-down elicits a reversal of content and pointing a steeple into the ground directs it to hell as opposed to heaven,” said Oppenheim of his work, according to designingbuildings.co.

“Turning the church upside down makes it more aggressive, but not blasphemous,” he said in a 2006 culturekiosque.com article, as a response to those who found his work anti-Christian or controversial.

Either way, “Device to Root out Evil” is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

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