To commemorate the United Nations 70 years of dedication towards international peace, the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unveiled "Enlightened Universe", a beautiful sculpture in Central Park, designed by Cristobal Gabarrón. We went to visit it, and ask Newyorker what they thought about it
This past Saturday, the community of nations celebrated a major turning point in the history of international relations: the birth, in 1945 of the United Nations and organization dedicated to solving issues, conflicts and crises through diplomacy. This life-changing, and life-saving organization celebrated its 70th birthday this past weekend and the world celebrated with it. All over the world, cities were lighting their landmarks with the color blue – the official color of the UN – to join the festivities. Such landmarks included the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House and the Pyramids of Giza.
To commemorate these 70 years of dedication towards international peace, the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unveiled a statement of his own; Enlightened Universe, a beautiful sculpture in Central Park, designed by Cristobal Gabarrón. The artwork displays a massive sphere made of reflective plates, surrounded by multicolored and multi-shaped individuals, with their arms linked. The figures form a spiral around the globe, allowing anyone to weave through them and go right up to the globe itself. Ban Ki-moon talked about the piece at the unveiling this past weekend stating: “Their hands are joined in solidarity, to show how we create a more inclusive world. A world where we have shared values and a shared responsibility to protect our planet”. “The timeless values of the UN Charter – continued the Secretary General – must remain our guide. Our shared duty is to 'unite our strength' to serve 'we the peoples’”.
The sculpture's central globe has a diameter of 6,371 millimeters as a tribute to the Earth, whose average radius measures 6,371 kilometers. The 70 figures represent human values defended by the UN – freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, shared responsibility, education and culture.
I went visit the sculpture at its home in Central Park, and more specifically, Rumsey Playfield. and had the pleasure of talking to people who were looking at the work asking them what they thought of it and if they felt it reflected the intentions of the United Nations. The responses were powerful.
One woman, an artist, remarked: “People from different countries hold hands together all over the world in peace and they protect this world.”
A man I spoke to found a lot of personal significance in the artwork, "Whenever my family and I travel together, we take a photo behind a giant, reflective sculpture, like The Bean in Chicago or the Frank Gehry Museum in LA. It reminds me of this thing in the late 80's called Building a World where every kid got together and put together a world sculpture out of little triangles, like this. Everyone sort of banned together in this collective effort, and it just took me right back to that. The symbol of the globe has always been a wonderful symbol and I’m so happy that you can actually get in to see it cause at first I thought this was a gate placed around it to prevent people from approaching the center of the sculpture but it is the exact opposite. I really, really like it.”
It was beautiful to hear about how one sculpture evoked so many ideas from one person; of family, traveling, and other powerful initiatives to celebrate world peace.
A couple I talked to, said: “[I see] Different colors, different shapes, representing the differences in humanity. When you look at it, you just see them all reflected. It’s also nice because you get to see the sky and the sand and the trees reflected as well, it’s beautiful. I like that it’s really calm here, it’s in a separate place.”
A worker who was finishing the sculpture at the time joined in our conversation to say that each reflective panel had multiple layers to it, making it ultra-reflective and able to capture light from more angles.
The sculpture has set out to do what the UN intended: to reassure the world of our global community and our abilities to unite, protect, and serve the planet. The sculpture will be there as a reminder to the people of New York, that while the UN has worked hard at its goals for 70 years, it intends to continue that work for years to come.