When Chelsea Rose mentioned in passing her admiration of the stone lions gallantly perched on knoll posts in her neighborhood, and how she dreamed of adorning them with ‘Santa-Claus’ hats, she didn’t expect to receive such an enthusiastic response. In fact the “Lions of Astoria” are of anthropological value; they deserve some attention. Not only do they speak to the desires of the home builder, they are situated in time as part of a tradition in building that dating back to Mesopotamia. See Also this and this. Lion proliferation may even form the basis of a new, more accurate community boundary.
The lions themselves present the viewer with an old dialectic. They are fun (small size) and funny (seemingly out of place in space and time), while representing an animal known for its ferocity and nobility (their leg muscles are so strong they sometimes die standing), meant to instill fear in the passerby, and pride in the homeowner. That being said it’s more likely that the presence, or lack thereof, is a representation of Greco-American cultural values of displaying wealth and extravagance.
Chelsea and I crafted our own hats (1 each) for the lions. Miniature ‘Santa-Claus’ hats are hard to come by during the Summer in New York. We did not limit ourselves to fauna, but embraced other permutations of knoll-post-ornamentation in order to convey the phenomenon’s depth.
Not unlike Richard Artschwager‘s novel ‘Dot’ series, we sought, and seek, to call attention to what we see as a delightful element of the built environment.
Our series builds on the existing dialectic of serious/funny while employing mnemonic devices to abet their recollection by the viewer at a far away time and place.
We want to form a focal point around which viewers may make light of paying badly needed attention to the build environment enveloping them. We hope the viewer will form a connection between similarly fashioned elements in their world and these photographs.
We’ll be building upon this gallery so check back soon.