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June 25, 2011

Universal Icons: Walk and At Work


Excerpts from a June 4, 2011 Wall Street Journal story follow.



Across the world, figures on street signs and traffic lights offer guidance and warnings to passersby, such as "don't walk" and "men at work." These icons transcend language and culture, yet from place to place, they still have their own unique identities.


In a series of public art installations, artist Maya Barkai is exploring the different representations of the universal man (or, in some cases, woman). The idea began nearly a decade ago, when New York City began replacing its "walk" and "don't walk" traffic lights with a more "pedestrian-friendly" figure of a person walking (for walk) and an open hand (don't walk). Ms. Barkai, who was born in Jerusalem and now lives in New York, began photographing similar figures from other countries. Now her collection of photos—taken by herself or submitted by others—numbers about 230 figures.


For her first project, "Walking Man 99," the artist made reproductions of the walk figures on traffic lights—from a stick figure in Marseilles to a ponytailed woman in Utrecht. The figures were printed on vinyl then mounted to plywood walls. Installations are currently up in Perm, Russia, and New York; 25 new figures were added to the New York site last week and will be up for another year. A second project, now up in Bat Yam, Israel, as part of the Bat Yam International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism, reproduces more than 55 "men at work" icons. Some wear hats. One from San Francisco depicts a woman.




Above and below, exemplars of the artist's work.


Slide show here.

[via designboom]




June 25, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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