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Times Square’s Next Public Artwork is a 65-Foot-Long Hot Dog

Loud and lit day and night, Times Square teems with uncanny costumers, harried tourists, honking cars, and a few brave bicyclists, all of whom better make room for New York’s newest landmark: a 65-foot-long hot dog. 

This is no street vendor’s swan song, but rather a public art installation by the irreverent Brooklyn-based artist duo Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw. On view from April 30 to June 13, the aptly titled Hot Dog in the City will be on view in Duffy Square, the largest of Times Square’s plaza. The sculpture will consist of a monumental bun and classic frankfurter drizzled with mustard (woe to the ketchup-devotees). It’ll move, too; hydraulic mechanisms will raise the sculpture skyward at high noon, and shower passersby with confetti. The associated spectacles come hot and ready: baseball games, presidential processions (of the extinct, hyper-patriotic flavor), the Fourth of July.

“ Hot Dog in the City isn’t just a spectacular sculpture; it’s a window into the heart of American camp and contemporary culture,” said Jean Cooney, director of Times Square Arts, which commissioned the work.

Through the duration of the project, food historians, meat producers, and vendors will lead public program—consisting of performances, talks, and competitions—that examine New York’s gastronomical legacy and its connections to the classic food. “Through the unassuming lens of a hot dog, Jen and Paul invite us to let our guard down and dig into the meaty complexities of our society with humor, audacity, and an unabashed embrace of the absurd,” Cooney added in her statement.  

This isn’t the first oversize iteration of an everyday good courtesy this artist duo to visit New York. In 2019, the pair installed two works in the atrium and lawn of the Brooklyn Museum: a towering hot fudge sundae laden dangerously with ice cream scoops and, outside, a bathroom sink. They’re humorous, sure, but tragic; the sundae teeters wildly, threatening a massive cleanup or cavity, while the faucet has been left running—both works are actually self-circulating fountains—as if this parched planet has water to spare. It all smacks of consumer excess and wanton celebration, which is the point, Outlaw and Catron seem to say.

Their Pop-inflected art, which also spans video and performance, feeds and critiques the worst of the American Dream, its insatiable hunger (You really need that much ice cream?), belligerent confidence, and capitalist impulses. They give these super-sized goods to the public and then wait—hope—for someone to ask whether it’s truly needed—or, better yet, how did this country normalize such outrageous consumption?

“Our work strives to engage as many people as possible into our conversations through the immediate enticement of visual gratification giving way to more meaningful dialogue regarding societal critiques,” the couple told ARTnews . “Food is a vehicle that we use often for this exchange, as its currency is understood by everyone. The Hot Dog is the people’s food and Times Square is the center of the universe, so the pairing of the two just makes sense.” shares always this Contents with License.

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