Time lost: ‘They Have Landed’ taken to the trash

In 2011, artist Loren Naji presented his 3,000-pound, eight-foot-diameter plywood time capsule to the people of Cleveland. Titled “They Have Landed,” Naji designed the sculpture, which is made of 192 layers of sanded plywood, to promote art and excitement in the city.

He invited Clevelanders to bring items to put in his time capsule—scheduled to be opened in 2050—and celebrate at his Ohio City studio before the sculpture was placed at the W. 25th Street Rapid station.

<span class="content-image-text">Artist Loren Naji inside his "They Have Landed" orb sculpture during its installation in 2011 with ex-councilman Joe Cimperman</span>Artist Loren Naji inside his "They Have Landed" orb sculpture during its installation in 2011 with ex-councilman Joe Cimperman“They Have Landed” has been at that location, across from the West Side Market, for nearly 12 years now, alluding to planets, spaceships, and aliens while awaiting 2050. But late last summer, with the finishing touches being made on the INTRO apartment complex on West 25th Steet, Naji discovered the time capsule was gone from its site.

“They threw my special sculpture in a dumpster,” he says. “It’s gone. It went in a dumpster, and they took it away.” He says he doesn’t know who was responsible for trashing the sculpture, it could have been New Harbor Ventures, Panzica Construction, the City of Cleveland, or Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

Naji says he has had permission from RTA to have “They Have Landed” on its property since 2011, and even had a plaque next to the installment. But he says in all the changes with the new development—a new streetscape, new right-of-way layouts, the time capsule became a part of the construction zone.

“With a huge construction site like that, they put up a huge fence,” Naji says. “They were leaning stuff on it, they even put a tire on top of it. I asked people to please stop doing that, which they ignored.”

But Naji was not expecting the sculpture to be thrown away. “With the plaque, someone could easily find me—any one of them could have called me and said, ‘hey Loren, you need to move your sculpture.”

Instead, Naji found out “They Have Landed” was gone when a friend called him to say she noticed it was gone. Naji says he is working with his lawyer to take legal action.

He says what he really wanted was communication. “I’d like them to connect with me,” he says. They’re just sort of ignoring me. I liked having the sculpture at that spot. It was supposed to be opened in 2050.”

Naji says he’d also like to be compensated for the year-and-a-half and $6,000 to build “They Have Landed.”

“To take it away makes me feel unimportant,” he says. “As adults, as humans and community-oriented people, let’s get together and have a meeting about this.”

Naji is mostly just sad the sculpture is gone. But, now matter what the outcome, he has a good attitude. “Life is a roller coaster,” he says. “Things go up, things go down. But I roll with the punches because you have to go on.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.