Katy Schimert

Artists & Allies IV, Signs and Symbols


Icarus and the World trade Center, 1998

Katy Schimert with Josh Lucas
Camera: Saam Gabbay

In the ’90s, I had a studio on John Street near the World Trade Center. The towers were an ever-present male icon of power. But in the evening, as the sun would descend and creep between the two towers, a visual sunburn would appear, dissolving the towers’ edge, transforming the masculine structure into an elusive female form. Meditating upon the transformation, the jubilation of the rising market and the haunting presence of traders, I came to think of the Icarus Myth — the image of out-of-control ambition, of flying and falling figures. Icarus’s father, Daedalus, was an architect who built a labyrinth that eventually imprisoned both father and son, leading to the fashioning of wax wings and their escape. For me, the trading floor and the complexity of world markets became a contemporary, psychological labyrinth and a prison for an ambitious soul.

Icarus follows a series of super 8 films that I made with Saam Gabbay. The works were made like drawings; to explore the narrative and illusory aspect to my sculpture. I used what was available – inserting the protagonist into everyday scenes. Looking back many of the elements would be unavailable to a contemporary artist: the Trade Centers are gone and even if they were still here one would not be able to film in the plaza, the American Stock Exchange or in a parasail on the Hudson river without extensive funds and permits. Josh Lucas became a Hollywood star.

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Film Stills

film stills, Icarus and the World Trade Center, 1998