About the Exhibition
Chris Doyle's Commutable responds to one of the most prevalent historical functions of public art—the creation of monuments that depict political leaders and war heroes. These individual monuments are raised up on pedestals and scattered around our public parks and plazas, and—like the busts of ancient Egyptian kings—are occasionally gilded with a layer of gold leaf. For Commutable, Doyle (b.1959, PA) and a team of twenty assistants applied a layer of 22-karat gold leaf onto each step of the Delancey Street entrance on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge. The gilding of the well-worn, much-used staircase transformed the character of these steps. "While evocative of the aspirations of past immigrant populations on both sides of the bridge," wrote Doyle upon completing the project, "the gold is used in an ephemeral way, in time worn away by the foot traffic of the daily commute. Made with the materials of urban monumentality, the work is integrated into the daily experience of the pedestrians and cyclists who use the bridge."