Orly Genger’s “YOU” actually isn’t just an art installation


By now, you’ve probably walked by Orly Genger’s YOUa.k.a. that gigantic mass of lobster rope on the Quiet Green. The structure, which is allegedly a work of “public art,” wraps around a tree at one end and extends towards the Van Wickle Gates at the other. Viewers are drawn to the structure’s unique contour, layout, and location–features they naïvely attribute to Genger’s artistic vision. “After all,” they assume, “what else would explain it? It was purely her decision–it’s not like there was an ulterior motive behind her design.”

Or was there?

The sculpture suspiciously resembles a number of other very interesting objects, which begs the question: what is the real purpose behind Orly Genger’s YOU?

Here are some possible explanations:

paxson sledding on orly genger sculpture

I’m not saying that this happened, but…

Possibility #1: President Paxson’s personal street-luge practice course. If you had the opportunity, would you learn to luge? You would, wouldn’t you? For that matter, wouldn’t anyone…even President Paxson? Enter: YOU. At second glance, it’s glaringly obvious that the structure is actually a miniature practice course for President Paxson to use when she doesn’t have enough time to get away from the office and go to the nearest street-luge practice facility.

orly genger sculpture as scarf

What if the sculpture represents a scarf?

Possibility #2: Subliminal arboreal rights advocation. As the weather gets colder, us humans often adorn ourselves with cozy scarves in order to make sure we stay nice and toasty. Why shouldn’t trees be entitled to the same luxury? Just look at the poor elms to the left that have shivered away all their leaves–they must be freezing! With this in mind, it’s clear that YOU is actually intended to serve as a subconscious reminder of our flora’s rights to the same outerwear as us students.

goblet of fire versus orly genger sculpture

The resemblance is so obvious, it almost hurts.

Possibility #3: Tribute to Cedric Diggory. Remember the tragic sequence in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry and Cedric reach the end of the maze, simultaneously grab the Triwizard Cup (which turns out to be a Portkey), and arrive at Tom Riddle’s grave, where Cedric is quickly killed? Now, notice how similar YOU looks to the part of the maze where Harry and Cedric find the Cup/Portkey. This is definitely no coincidence. In fact, YOU might very well be the Brown University staff’s means of quietly mourning the beautiful soul that was unjustly taken in the end of the fourth Harry Potter novel.

Although it’s difficult to determine which hypothesis is correct (because they’re all so valid), one thing’s for sure: Orly Genger’s YOU definitely isn’t just a piece of art.

Images viavia, viaviavia, and via Kevin Haggerty ’18.

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