Just when you thought the holidays were over, one artist has brought the season back to life in Maspeth.
Michael Neff, creator of the “Suspended Forest” exhibit currently on display at the Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave., has hung 40 discarded Christmas trees at the arts space to give these trees a second life, if only for a short period of time.
“The inspiration for ‘Suspended Forest’ came from experiencing the stacks of Christmas trees outside buildings and the scatter of trees on sidewalks all over New York City,” Neff said. “I was surprised by the sheer numbers, a reminder of how many people live in New York, and I saw an opportunity to use the trees as a material for some sort of sculptural installation. People were sharing photographs of trees on sidewalks after Christmas, but I wanted to do something more physical.”
Neff first had the idea for his “Suspended Forest” in 2011, when the San Francisco-based artist moved back to Brooklyn and found a space under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), which would be the ideal spot for his display.
“On New Year’s Day 2012 I got up early and dragged some trees to that space and hung them up with some fluorescent pink twine I had used on a previous project,” Neff explained. “I anchored the twine to whatever I could find, discarded in the space, including a tire and a couple of crushed construction barrels. I went back the next day with a friend and collected many more trees that were about the same size and hung them up in a long row, from end to end, under the BQE.”
In 2013, Neff once again hung his tree display under the BQE.
Unfortunately for Neff, the trees were mounted in an unauthorized and unused space under the highway which was fenced off from pedestrian traffic, and both times his displays were taken down in a matter of days by the city.
This year, it took Neff and a group of 10 volunteers two days to hang the trees in a grid formation at the Knockdown Center, allowing visitors to walk between the trees, giving them the feeling of being in a forest.
The exhibit had its opening reception on Jan. 9 and will run until Jan. 31. For more information on the “Suspended Forest,” visit Neff’s website at https://www.michaelneff.com/.