UNION SQUARE — A 10-foot tall bronze depiction of a Roman god might rise in the triangular plaza at 14th Street and Union Square East, according to a spokeswoman for the artist.
The two-headed bust — a female version of the Roman god Janus, or the god of "beginnings" — is awaiting Parks Department approval to be installed at the plaza in June, according to an agency spokeswoman.
If approved, it would be on display in Union Square through next February and would take the place of "My Circle," the large, rust-colored sculpture by Brooklyn artist Beverly Pepper installed last fall to celebrate Pepper's 93rd Birthday.
The piece, part of a larger exhibition by South African artist Lionel Smit called "Morphous", depicts Janus — whose two faces show his ability to see both the past and the future — as a woman of the Cape Malay community, a majority Muslim ethnic group in South Africa with roots in Southeast Asia.
In a video describing the project, Smit said he hopes the layered texture of the sculpture gets people thinking about the many ways in which the past has shaped ourselves and the world around us.
“The Morphous exhibition is about various layers, various concepts that built up to be what it is now,” Smit said.
Lionel Smit MORPHOUS Exhibition Circa from Lionel Smit Studio on Vimeo.
In its original installation, the sculpture was surrounded by a circle meant to represent spices, which Smit used as a nod to the way in which the spice trade shaped the modern-day identities of ethnic groups around the world.
Smit, born in 1982, is better known as a painter, but has shown a variety of media in has galleries across the world.