Yvette Helin — who moved to Williamsburg in 1991 and now lives in near by Greenpoint — will suit up in one of her black costumes that transform her into a pedestrian-crossing stick figure. The professional costume designer first launched the “Pedestrian Project” in 1989, taking to the city streets with a troupe of costumed volunteers. She eventually traveled the globe with the piece.
The inspiration for the project’s creation is diverse. Of course, the signs are the main inspiration. Where are the people that look like that? Oh! here they are! The figures on those signs however began to have more meaning as they came to life. At times they can be a comment on our very busy lives, passing ships in the night, always moving on, missing so much on the way to our important meetings. The characters can also become a very humorous look at ourselves, a visual comedy. Sometimes they are more like silent poems, creating subtle visual messages for onlookers. The performances can also portray a sculptural scene, a living work of art. Often the works are improvisational, and the characters are directed by the area they are in, conversations and discussions the performing pedestrian group has before, after, and during the works.
Always wanting to make public art, Yvette created the pedestrians as an answer to a strong desire of hers to make artwork in the public arena and be free from the limitations of public sculptural installations, allowing her to create live works that could move and flow with the surrounding people and constantly changing environments.
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