In the great Lever House courtyard on Park Avenue, the Bruce High Quality Foundation has installed a piece called “The New Colossus”, a life-size bronze copy of the inflatable rat that unions park wherever scab labor’s being used. The exhibition statement says that the art collective has “undermined the political content by solidifying a plastic animal in bronze and by declaring it to be fine art”, but I can’t buy that reading. I think the piece works, and works well, in a much more traditional mold: As a classic celebration, in bronze, of the thing it depicts – this time the labor rat rather than Marcus Aurelius. Of course, there’s irony in using an upper-class medium for a working-class subject, but I see the combination as portending a utopian, genuinely democratic future where the working stiff rules.
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