A ménage à trois, by design. Channeling the spontaneity of a prank, Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi plunks hotel rooms atop public art and architecture, remaking city landmarks like the waterfront Market Square in Helsinki, Finland. Until October 12, his Hotel Manta welcomes daytime visitors and nighttime guests into a suite encircling Havis Amanda (or Manta), a bronze nude made by Finnish sculptor Ville Vallgren in 1906. A marble mermaid, Havis Amanda stands on seaweed with four fish spouting water at her feet and a quartet of sea lions panting at her person. Intended to symbolize the rebirth of Helsinki, the coy sculpture initially sparked criticism, particularly among woman, for its seductive nakedness and sexual objectification (universal suffrage was introduced the same year in Finland). With time, Havis Amanda has become a beloved hub for celebrations, peaking with springtime Vappu parties.
Now, Havis Amanda is playing hostess. Instead of boxing her in, Nishi’s installation adds to her allure: the bronze bisects a double bed, her feet at eye-level with sleeping guests. Modern trappings and toile wallpaper complement her classical curves (as does this marbleized top, its fingerprint pattern evoking the artist’s hand). The granite fountain gurgles below, while the city swirls outside. A sound night’s sleep is not guaranteed in the room rate.