Life Underground by Tom Otterness
Everyone I know loves Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground,” the Fraggle Rock Doozer-like small bronze characters inhabiting the 8th Avenue L train station. For some reason I’ve always hated them with an unnatural passion. They annoy me to no end. I used to see them everyday as I went to work, climbing out of fake manhole covers, holding big bronze sacks of money, crawling underneath subway bars. I find them cheesy and lame, I really don’t have a reason other than I don’t like them.
His cartoony bronzes are everywhere- all over children’s play areas mostly, frogs and birds dot parks all over the city. A horse and buggy sat in DUMBO for awhile. There is even a statue on the bar at Max Fish. But did you know before all these quirky wuirky cutesy wutesy bronze characters, Otterness started his career by adopting a dog- no, not to make a bronze character of it. Otterness made a little film called “Shot Dog Film.” Yep, Mr. Otterness adopted this pup in order to shoot it, and film it slowly dying in agony. He then put that film on loop. Now, that’s ART! Writer Gary Indiana said it best, “Tom Otterness adopted a dog and then shot it to death for the fun of recording his infantile, sadistic depravity on film.” He has since apologized, but whatever. Now I dislike his bronzes even more.
Who: Tom Otterness
What: Life Underground
Where: 8th Avenue L train station, 14th Street and 8th Avenue