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Hollywood! Brooklyn! Basildon!

4 August 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Civic pride can manifest itself in strange ways, not least when a major conurbation feels the need to see its name writ large on the skyline lest people forget where they are. The latest example may be coming to Brooklyn, where artist Susanna Briselli is hoping to get the go-ahead for an enormous neon sign.

Briselli first came up with the idea a decade ago, when she was working in an office close to the Manhattan shore. ‘People who would come and visit us,’ she told PIX11. ‘We’d take them up on the roof and show them the landscape and they’d say, “Well, we see the Brooklyn Bridge, but where exactly is Brooklyn?”’

However self-evident the answer might seem, Briselli drew up a scheme that would quite literally spell out the borough’s name – with added punctuation. Looking to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles for inspiration, she created a design that borrowed liberally from the logo of the Brooklyn Dodgers, throwing in an exclamation point at the end for good measure. ‘That’s what makes it Brooklyn. It’s not just Brooklyn, it’s Brooklyn!’

Indeed. But after 10 years of badgering, it’s finally starting to look as though Briselli’s sign might just become a reality – she has written to the new owners of the Watchtower building, at least. But Briselli might want to heed the example of the Essex town of Basildon. A few years back, Basildon unveiled its very own take on the Hollywood sign on, erm, a dual carriageway linking the A127 to the A176. Locals reportedly had mixed reactions towards their hometown’s bold affirmation of itself. ‘It’s no Angel of the North’, commented one passer-by to the Daily Mail at the time.

Perhaps a twinning agreement is in the works?

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