For her second visit to the United States, Italian artist Alicé Pasquini set out to do several walls, both commissioned and on her own accord. She spanned the city, putting up work in Inwood in Northern Manhattan to the Rockaways in Brooklyn. The artist also spent time at one of New York’s most iconic graffiti locations, the Freedom Tunnel.
The Freedom Tunnel is part of the Amtrak line that runs the length of Manhattan’s West Side underneath the Henry Hudson Parkway. The line was so dubbed for two reasons: one, because of the work of Chris “Freedom” Pape, whose spray painted figures are now gradually peeling from the walls; two, because it is a place for those who seek a life beyond the confines of society, their version of freedom. At the Freedom Tunnel, the past and present merge. The work of writers like Freedom and the deceased Sace rest beside pieces from contemporary street artists like Overunder and Gaia.
When Alicé arrived at the Freedom Tunnel, she flipped quickly through sets of transparencies, choosing a bird from the stack. The small bird would eventually become part of a larger mural at a school in Inwood, but at first it stood alone in the Tunnel. As trains sped by, Alicé fluidly sprayed paint from a can, not phased by her surroundings. The resulting bird not only stands out from her larger body of work, but also from its surroundings. On either side, it is flanked by large graffiti fill-ins. It looks up longingly at the sunlight filtering in through cracks in the Tunnel's foundations, a symbol for the freedom many find in the legendary spot.
Image via Rhiannon Platt