LEFT: "Tree Museum," tree #6, outside the post office at 149th Street, 2008. RIGHT: Katie Holten, "Grand Concourse Street Tree at 149th Street," ink on paper, 30 x 22 inches, 2008.
Tree MuseumDecember 10th, 2009
We invited artist Katie Holten to write about her current project, Tree Museum, a public artwork in the Bronx, New York. — Ed.
I think it’s fair to say that Tree Museum is unlike most other recent public art projects in New York City. The scale of the project is huge and at ten miles in length, rivals that of recent blockbusters such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates (Central Park, 2005), Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls (NYC waterfronts, produced by the Public Art Fund, 2008) and PLOT: This World and Nearer Ones (Governor’s Island, produced by CREATIVE TIME, 2009). But the comparison ends there. In all other regards, the Tree Museum is a different species.
Almost invisible, the Tree Museum, which quietly opened on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx in June, makes the hidden elements of the street visible. At the root of my practice is an understanding that nature is not somewhere else. Nature is not far away on an abandoned island or in a prairie; it is everything around us, including the unforgiving city streets and the inherently urban communities of the South Bronx. These very streets are natural and this environment – our sidewalk, our block, our apartment building, and of course our street tree — is our place in the city.
The Tree Museum invites pedestrians to experience the Bronx, and New York City, in unexpected ways. One hundred street trees, from 138th Street at the southern tip of the Grand Concourse to Mosholu Parkway at the northern tip, are the points of entry to this “museum-without-walls.” The audio guide at the core of the Tree Museum links the natural and social ecosystems. The recorded voices and stories are used sculpturally to create an artwork whose roots reach down into the history of the place, while the branches spread out and offer insights into the resilient communities, fragile ecologies, and vibrant daily scenes to be found along the street...
more:The Tree Museum audioguide is now available as a podcast -Katie Holten interviewed by Ike Sriskandarajah for Public Radio International's Living on Earth show -Tree Museum runs through January 3, 2010