Between Four Freedoms, Breakthrough Art, Opens in the Park

Between Four Freedoms, Breakthrough Art, Opens in the Park

Between Four Freedoms, a breakthrough work by Shaun Leonardo, opened in FDR Four Freedoms Park, this week. A work so unlike anything before it, it defies categorization.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

What is Between Four Freedoms…?

Between Four Freedoms West Side
West side view…
Between Four Freedoms-East Side
On the East side

At first glance, Shaun Leonardo’s installation looks static, images of hands, one on each flank, at the entry to FDR Four Freedoms State Park. But these are just the starting point. Consider them gateways because QR Codes directly below take viewers to an internet based adventure in expression.

Leonardo, an innovator, enlivened the Bronx Museum, earlier this year with The Breath of Empty Space, takes interactive art one step further on Roosevelt Island.

Inspired by an idea from Four Freedoms CEO, Howard Axel, the artist brings visitors inside with a look at how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s idea of four essential freedoms plays out today in the U.S.

A visitor at the starting point…

Bring your smartphones. Point the camera at the large QR code directly beneath the images, and follow the guides. Soon, you’re looking at and listening to graphic, emotional videos of personal experiences. The impact is immediate and irresistible, but you must go to the park for the best experience.

Talking about Between Four Freedoms…

After guests at the opening enjoyed a generous reception catered by Constellation Culinary, managers of the café @ Cornell Tech, alongside the exhibit, everyone gathered on the park’s historic steps for a panel discussion.

Moderated by Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation, Leonardo was joined by artist Sanford Biggers and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program officer, Deborah Cullen-Morales.

As an early autumn sunset gathered, the panel took on the meaning and future of monuments in the social swirl of American cultural dynamics. A lively 45-minute discussion delved deep into contemporary conflicts and the role art can play in awakening change.

It ended with a round of each panel member assessing whether things had gotten “better” in the U.S.

It’s not a simple question, and neither were their expansive answers.

Shaun Leonardo, second from right, with guest for the panel discussion.

Following Four Freedoms active role in last weekend’s Global Citizen Live event, Between Four Freedoms signaled the park conservancy’s firm commitment to its role as public citizen as well as serene urban retreat.


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