The suburban yard is an outdoor enclosure framed by fences, walls and hedges that define a personal, yet publicly visible, space. In these areas between dwellings, individuals and families express themselves by manipulating and decorating small portions
The yard is a meeting point of the natural and artificial — an open air home where earth, plant life and animals are alternately suppressed, cultivated and domesticated. It is a privatized parcel of land that is constructed according the inhabitants’ needs and called upon to serve a variety of roles: an outdoor living room, workspace and playground.
“Yard,” a new exhibit at the Socrates Sculpture Park, brings an urban perspective to what is, typically, a suburban space. The works presented in this show are interpretations of the plant, animal and human life of the lawn that are mediated through memory and past experience, through media and the marketing of an American ideal, and through desire and dread.
The exhibition includes newly commissioned works by Elise Ferguson, Rosemarie Fiore, Maximilian Goldfarb, Lisa Hein & Bob Seng, Martine Kaczynski, Pia Lindman, Jason Middlebrook, Erin Shirreff, Alyson Shotz , Venske & Spänle and Weinthaler; a video installation by Andrea Bowers; a billboard by Gregory Crewdson; and a monumental print by Adam Cvijanovic.
Some of the highlights of the exhibit are Fiore’s “Royal Pine Tree” composed of 5,500 dark green Royal Pine car fresheners fastened to metal rebar branches on a 30-foot telephone pole trunk; Lindman’s site-specific playground for dogs featuring a sand box and a ball pen; Middlebrook’s collection of garden gnomes set on columns that appear to have been pulled up from the ground, bringing with them layers of earth, roots, gravel and rock; and Shotz’s traditional picket fence made of mirrored Plexiglas running 136 feet through the trees.
Presented in the context of Socrates Sculpture Park, these installations transpose a suburban vernacular into a metropolitan, industrial environment.
Socrates is a remarkable platform for this exhibition — a former rubble-strewn lot that has made the transition to a natural oasis — it is an entirely built landscape, formed where there was once no land at all. The exhibition recasts the park as a suburban backyard for an entire urban neighborhood; a displaced American dream of privatized nature.
The exhibit is on display through Aug. 3.
Socrates Sculpture Park is located at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens. To reach the Park by subway, take the Astoria bound N or W train to Broadway, walk 8 blocks west toward the river. For bus or driving directions, call 718-956-1819 or visit go to www.socratessculpturepark.org. The park is open every day from 10 a.m. to sunset and admission is free.