I: Disturbed Land, 12" x 72" x 4",
graphite on paper
Turf II: Modern Meadow, 12" x 40" x 4", mixed
media on paper
Turf III: Flourish, 12" x 54" x 4", mixed media
is part of Survive/Thrive/Alive (March 4 - May 29, 2006) an exhibition
at Wave Hill, a
spectacular 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the
Hudson River and Palisades in the Bronx.
Survive/Thrive/Alive explores the theme of plant survival, showcasing
eight newly created installations by artists: examining issues of adaptation
and migration, and how these natural forces are compounded by the struggle
between civilization and the plant kingdom.
Turf is a suite of books inspired by Albrecht Durers
1503 masterpiece Der Grosse Rasenstuck (The Great Turf), a painstakingly
detailed record of quotidian nature so accurate that botanists today
can easily identify each of the nine plants
This sublime portrait of an apparently peaceable plant kingdom, however,
belies an important fact: these are weeds, and a veritable dream team
of plant competitors. A weeds status may vary from generation
to generation, and from region to region.
But weeds and humans have a unique co-dependency. Weeds thrive where
humans alter the landscape, mimicking our valued crops, adapting relentlessly,
reproducing inventively, and sometimes even photosynthesizing more efficiently
than their cultivated neighbors.
The Eden-like calm of Durers work also obscures that these are
plants on the move. In the five centuries since he collected this slice
of nearby meadow, these nine plants have traveled the world, following
the footsteps of European colonizers invited or not.
Turfs three books tell a success story of competition and
co-evolution, as these weeds journeyed from Durers pastoral Europe
to prosper throughout the globe. Each book deals with a different aspect
Disturbed Land focuses on the concept of turf, exploring
how weeds migrate, compete, and succeed where humans disrupt the land.
Modern Meadow is a meditation on the idea that Durer could
walk beyond the city walls to see these plants in a pastoral meadow,
while today they thrive in the margins of human civilization.
The third book Flourish, approaches the reproductive strategies
that enable these plants to prosper, the secrets of seed dispersal through
the air and rhizome growth below ground.