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Two Non-Art Majors Critique the Astor Place Rhinos – NYU Local – Medium


It’s just…so literal.

By Ali Golub and Sara Merg

Astor Place is essentially NYU’s thoroughfare, so you’ve probably already noticed the new art installation on view. The Cube (officially the Alamo) now shares the space with a statue of three rhinos, a homage to the last of the Northern White Rhinos. We’re not art critics, but public space is public space, so two Local writers decided to take a stab at art critique…

Ali Golub, entertainment writer: Is the Astor place rhino statue more or less profound now that the male is dead? I feel like as an art piece it’s more profound but I also feel like the artists are annoyed that the rhino died less than a week after it went up.

Sara Merg, on-campus writer: To me it definitely seems more sad now that the rhino is dead. But, also, I feel like something we’re not talking about is that everybody saw that coming. It’s also so literal that I’m sort of struggling to find some deeper meaning. Is the reason they’re standing on top of each other a reference to “stacked odds,” or is my interpretation just way off?

A: I kinda thought the rhinos standing on top of each other was supposed to be like they’re supporting each other kind of thing? But idk.

S: I definitely am of the mindset that art doesn’t have to have a “meaning” beyond aesthetic value, but I’m so sure that the artists think more of their work than purely aesthetic. I will say that the rhinos look pretty nice next to the cube. The color palette is the same and it creates a lot more cohesion in the space than there is typically. It does feel odd to me that they didn’t at least attempt to center it.

What are the environmental impacts of the statue — funds, materials, etc — and do you think those funds could have been better placed? Or is awareness about our impact on the planet still so low that we need work like this?

A: You’re totally right about the environmental impact of it all. Definitely could’ve been used towards something else. Apparently they spent $150,000 of their own money on it and then another $50,000 was raised in Kickstarter. And it just gets weirder when you know the backstory of the artists. They’re like really aggressively white Australians who got married after 7 days.

Also I feel like the rhinos was a strange choice for highlighting environmental issues. Like those rhinos have been doomed for a long time. The male was old, the two females were his daughter and granddaughter, and they’re both infertile.

S: Also like…. The rhino’s dead guys.

A: So like, I feel like they could’ve highlighted something else regarding climate change like how corporations are really the biggest culprits when it comes to ruining the environment. But idk, I’m just spitballing man.

“The Last Three” is on view on Astor Place until May.

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