Purple Art

[July 24 2015]

An interview with Hanna Liden on her public art installation “Everything,” New York

Hanna Liden’s “Everything” is a 4-piece public exhibition installed in the Hudson River Park and Ruth Wittenberg Plaza on New York’s West Side. Presented by the Art Production Fund and Kiehls, the sculptures mimic a photograph from her earlier exhibition, “I Hope These Ruin Your Perfectly Bad Day” at Maccarone, in which Liden placed a tulip within a stack of bagels. Over a couple of bottles of Budweiser at a small bar overlooking the Hudson, she explains why she chose the staple New York baked good as the subject for her first public piece. “Everything” is on view until the September 30th, New York.

Interview and photos by Paige Silveria


PAIGE SILVERIA – This is a great little bar.

HANNA LIDEN – I’ve spent a lot of time here the past two days because we began installing at 5am yesterday. And it’s all in parts, so it was really complicated. But otherwise you can’t transport it. And it was so hot to be outside in the sun all day. So I came here to the bar many times.


PAIGE SILVERIA – And you just finished shooting with a local news network?

HANNA LIDEN – Yeah. There’s this woman, Stephanie, who does all of the cultural spots for NY1. She was really awesome. She had blond hair and I asked her if I could take a picture of her. She said, “You can’t, I’m wearing sneakers.” Then she changed into her nude heels and said, “Okay. Take the picture.” She was very prepared, like super efficient and she was running the camera herself because her cameraman was on vacation. She was super impressive.



HANNA LIDEN – New York One News. It’s like the local New York City news channel. Everyone has it that has Time Warner Cable. It loops all day long. I mean, I think mostly old people have cable TV now, right? But if you turn on your TV, it goes automatically to TV1 and they also have a website. But yesterday I did FOX 5, but I felt really shitty.



HANNA LIDEN – FOX 5 News? Because it’s like the most conservative, like fake news. But I did everything because it’s a public project. And it’s fun to have public recognition for a public art project. And there’s been a lot of interest. Like I’m here in the WSJ, “Rolling with it,” and I got the arts page in the New York Times.


PAIGE SILVERIA – Where did you produce the work?

HANNA LIDEN – With a fabricator in Greenpoint. My studio is not big enough. It’s carved out of this styrofoam and then covered with polyurethane, like a thick layer of plastic. And there were so many people involved.


PAIGE SILVERIA – Do you have a lot of assistants?

HANNA LIDEN – I don’t. I work in solitude. I don’t like to have a bunch of people to tell what to do every day. So I worked with this workshop on this project. I was there almost the whole time, but there was this fully staffed studio.


PAIGE SILVERIA – Did the Art Production Fund have a lot of input for the project?

HANNA LIDEN – No not at all. I just proposed this and they loved it. They are so amazing. I’ve known them for a very long time. We started talking about doing something almost four years ago. Then 15 months ago, I proposed this idea. It’s based off of a photograph that I already made. It was a still-life of a stack of bagels with a tulip in it. ’Cause I did this series of photographs with flowers with makeshift vases, like stuff you can buy in the deli or find on the sidewalk. And I thought all along that if I was to do a public artwork in New York City, I would like it to be about New York City. And be very accessible to everyone. I thought the theme of the bagel would relate really well to New Yorkers. Like an old person, a young person, different race, different class–and it’s a really great shape. But it’s been over a year of actual production.


PAIGE SILVERIA – How do you feel now that it’s finished? How was last night’s opening?

HANNA LIDEN – I don’t know. I never enjoy myself at my own openings, because it’s too much. I don’t like birthday parties either. This is like a birthday party square like ten, you know? And also, I was exhausted because the installation had happened the same day. It’s well-received, which makes me really happy, because I worked on it for a long time. And you don’t want to put something on the street that people will hate. It’s just like littering or something. So that would be the worst-case scenario. I want people to like it because they have to look at it. It’s different if you make something and show it in the gallery or museum. People go there by choice. But this is sticking something in people’s everyday life. I’d rather have them like it.


PAIGE SILVERIA – That’s a great perspective to have.

HANNA LIDEN – Yeah and there are children climbing on it and people taking photos. I think New York gets it. It speaks to them. It has this sentimental thing where it’s like a tribute to New York City. Have you lived here long?


PAIGE SILVERIA – Just a few years. You’ve been here for much longer, right?

HANNA LIDEN – I came here for school like 17 years ago and I decided to stay.



HANNA LIDEN – Because I really like it here. I like it much better than anywhere else. It’s a constant struggle. There’s a resistance. It keeps me going. It keeps me occupied, the challenge. For me, it makes me feel more alive.

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