As home to around 8.5 million people, New York City is by far the most populous city in the U.S. But even though The Big Apple may have Broadway and Wall Street and Times Square, it’s a little slim on those quaint and cozy countryside vibes. Starting now, however, New Yorkers looking for a bit of that rural stillness in the middle of all that raucous movement will able to enjoy Mark Reigelman’s Smökers: an art installation centering around a small cabin that’s being moved to different locations in the city, where it covers up steaming manholes and releases said steam via its tiny chimney.
The project, which was recently reported on by Laughing Squid, ultimately “seeks to redress the purpose of steam tubes, and insert the notion of whimsy and imagined narrative to the everyday.” And judging by the various photos of the little pigeon-gray wooden cabin squatted amid cold and wet cement intersections, drawing curious looks from all who pass by it, Reigelman has definitely nailed whimsy.
The inspiration for the project came from Reigelman’s childhood interest in Räuchermann, or “smokers,” which are “simple wooden incense burners, often resembling cabins, animals, and chimney sweeps” that come from Germany. Reigelman told Slate that the reason the cabin is painted gray rather than a bright color like the steam tubes it replaces (which can be seen, along with many other images of the project, in the gallery below), is because he wanted the focus to be on the steam itself, as it is “‘the conceptual force of the project.'”
According to Reigelman, the city’s residents’ reactions have been mostly positive, and he even earned praise from the NYPD; an especially impressive feat considering he doesn’t have public permits for his installation. But public permits are a burden of reality, and the little gray Smökers cabin in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world is about going on a journey to a place where all of those burdens are left behind…
But you know what shouldn’t be left behind? Your thoughts on this installation, which you can post without a permit in the comments below!
Images: Mark Reigelman