The Great Edible Lawn
Central Park, New York
The Newsstand Lets Kiosk
The Great Edible Lawn is Norman's conversion
of the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park into
something useful for tenant-gardeners. It almost
certainly will not happen at that site, but something
like it could happen in other public parks of the city.
His Underground Agrarians project outlines the
convergence in one or two building lots of sustainable,
self-reliant technologies for urban gardening, human-waste
composting and wastes recycling. Such projects are already
underway in ecology-concious neighborhoods around the world.
The question is less, "can this be done?" than "can poor
people be organized to do this?" This work could better inspire
action, I think, if it did not have its little HO-scale vignette
of some locals in a protest with a graffiti-covered van.
The Tompkins Square Park Monument to Civil Disobedience
consists chiefly of an elaborate treehouse with a with a lookout
tower and a platform suspended between three trees. It could easily
be built, physically. But it could almost certainly never be allowed,
politically. Not in a public park. But remove the title and relocate it
to a private site, and you have an entirely executable structure.
The chief obstacle to such construction is getting the permit.
Norman's most likely construction requires the least space,
the least permission: it's the vegetation-roofed, solar-panel-
powered, community-organized information booth and newsstand.
To build this requires only some community organization --
according to Norman's plan, in Stuyvesant Town, the middle-class
housing development on Manhattan's East Side between 14th and 34th
streets -- and one or two good lawyers.
The works are precise, though none of the precision is esthetically
necessary. It is just meant to create an air of realism. These models,
with their descriptive texts that include details of financing and
administration, could become reality. But they require forms of
social organization, finance capital and the representation of the work
entirely outside of the art context.
Nils Norman at
America Fine Arts, 22 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013
Feb. 26 - Mar. 22 1997
PETER FEND is New York artist.