Strategically placed in one of the most popular tourist sites in New York, many passersby on the High Line have lined up to take pictures with a half-naked man sporting sagging Hanes underwear, who appears to lurch forward with closed eyes. The piece is titled Sleepwalker by American artist Tony Matelli.
The artist’s approach to making hyper-realistic sculptures has also made them a target. Two years ago, Matelli’s sleepwalking man was placed in Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and was vandalized with yellow paint. The controversy that occurred after the installment of the artwork was centered around the work being viewed as “threatening” by some students.
Last year, the artist created a lost seeing-eye dog sculpture in the New York City subway line on 72nd Street and Broadway. It was stolen and later found abandoned at Riverside Park.
Now, the sleepwalker is firmly planted in New York for the next year as part of the elevated park’s “Wanderlust” group exhibition, and tourists are loving it. Most of the sightseers below were too occupied with selfies, hugs, and Instagram opportunities to confront the “lost and adrift” sculpture, which, as the High Line advertises, “questions the extent to which any one of us is ever fully aware of our own surroundings.
Check out some of the most bizarre photos we’ve seen so far.
Sleepwalker is on view at the High Line, April 2016–March 2017.
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