Magazine article The New Yorker

Bunkers

Magazine article The New Yorker

Bunkers

Article excerpt

Bunkers. When somebody invades your country, you gotta have 'em. Build your bunkers, repel the invader--then what? You've got a lot of bunkers sitting around. Stroll along the Atlantic coast of Europe, breathe in the sea air, and what's that beside the cliff? Bunkers. Go for a walk in a forest in suburban Moscow. More bunkers. Old Soviet bunkers sticking out of the ground in a pleasant woodland spot like the tops of antique army helmets, little gunport slits in their fronts and sides. What's inside the bunkers? You don't want to know. Puddles. Empty bottles. A putty scraper--who knows what that thing is? Don't mess with any of that stuff. In most of your old bunkers, you don't want to look too closely.

Leonard Ursachi is an artist and a sculptor who makes bunkers. He grew up in Romania, where there are a lot of bunkers, and they fascinated him with their aspects of shelter, danger, safety, and fear. Now he has a studio in Brooklyn where he draws bunkers, constructs maquettes of bunkers, and builds life-size bunkers. Ursachi's bunkers have appeared in Prospect Park, Brooklyn; at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, in Bucharest; on Duarte Square, in downtown Manhattan; and on the broad lawn sloping down to a view of the Hudson River at the Hebrew Home, a long-term geriatric-care facility in Riverdale. A show of his bunker sketches, photographs, and maquettes was recently on display in the Hebrew Home's Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion lobby, by the switchboard and reception desk. Not long ago, the artist went there to give a brief lecture about his work and to take questions from residents.

Leonard Ursachi explained to an audience of two dozen or so--some in wheelchairs, some with attendants, some on folding chairs--that bunkers remind us where we belong, and plant fear in us, and represent a state of mind. He said that he likes to turn their meaning upside down by building them from feathers, or tiles, or willow branches that he gets from Queens or from Kentucky and weaves together, basket style. He is a slim, handsome man with a dark beard and dark eyes, and he had on a gray jacket, a dark shirt, and black jeans. He speaks softly and was heckled, almost, to talk louder. A resident asked him to repeat his name, and he did. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.