ENTRY #586



Identify a public space

According to Max Chafkin in Vanity Fair’s February 2012 issue, before September 17th 2011, when several hundred people marched to Zucotti Park, it was ‘a place so dull that the bankers and construction workers in the neighborhood barely knew it was there.’ Its significance for freedom of speech is what has activated the space and made it a pilgrimage place for both New Yorkers and tourists. This appropriated function of Zucotti Park, as a place where important conversations are had, is reinforced by our proposal for a Monument to the Unsaid. The installation also facilitates conversations in a way that provides an alternative to a protest.

The location, Zucotti Park, is also important because the social movement, Occupy Wall Street, was the start of a global conversation. As far as speech goes, the space is a metaphoric foghorn, the voice of which reverberates around the world. This space changed the national and international conversation about an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Zuccotti Park is a privately-owned park that was ironically appropriated by the public in order to revolt against an economic order that is not responsive to the truths or realities of the needs of the American collective public. By virtue of being a privately-owned public space (POPS), the City was limited in its jurisdiction to contain the message, more so than if the movement would have taken place in a publicly-owned park.

View the Current Space

Design Proposal

The installation is a manifestation of the truths that are told through the lies that we hold. It places emphasis on the importance of that which we self-censor, as individuals as well as a collective. These Life-Lies as referred to by Henrik Ibsen in his book Wild Duck, are illusions we reinforce or cling to allow us to go on living. However they also reveal the loss of freedom in those things that are unsaid.

In understanding the importance of the lies we tell, we give voice to what is truly in the human heart. The constructed space encourages the individual to reflect on that which we do not fulfill and that which we rob humanity by self-censoring. Revealing things we hide or lie about also eases the hearts of people around us that may relate or lie about the same things.

The elements to be used to construct the space include grids of light and their reflection on black oil. The space invites individuals to engage with it one-by-one, to ascend through it and having experienced it, to ask the question ‘what is my biggest lie?’ The participant in the sculpture will have the opportunity to digitally reveal a lie or something they hide. These statements will after a time lag (to maintain anonymity) be reflected onto the oil.

View the Design Proposal


We would take up the west side of Zuccotti Park with shallow pools of oil (approximately 2″ in depth) measuring 64’x128′. The pools would be divided in half by a walking path that dissects the installation allowing citizens to walk through. The pools would be made up of Belfast black marble on the exterior and a wood structure and plastic black sheeting on the interior.

The pools would be paired with a canopy of lights that rises from the ground to 16′ in height from east to west. The canopy of light would be held up by a light aluminum structure (oxidized to be a uniform black color). The structure would be made up of metal columns and wire.

The lights would be connected to touch screen where pedestrians would share statements that would be reflected onto the oil after a time lag.

The design of the project would be finalized by our team with a bidding request for contractors to build the project once the concept/design is approved.

All funding for the project would be sought from public and private entities that would benefit from the creation of this work.


This proposal was conceived and developed by Yazmany Arboleda, Colombian American public artist and Nabila Alibhai, a strategic planner in health, safety and community integration. Yazmany and Nabila are currently partners in the initiative MIT ENGAGE, a project that guides communities through processes of reinvention through art. They have previously collaborated for the execution of a public art installation that engaged 10,000 pedestrians on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. All the renderings for this proposal were done by Yazmany Arboleda.

Yazmany studied architecture and design in Washington D.C., London and Milan. In 2008, he founded The Glassless Glasses Studio, an art activation collaborative based in Brooklyn. His work has been discussed in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian, and he was recently named one of Good Magazine’s 100 People Making Our World Better.

Nabila has worked in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, the United States and Switzerland. Currently a Research Fellow at MIT in the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies, she is examining how urban design promotes pluralism. She has a Master of Public Health from Yale University and is trained in conflict resolution.


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