Mimicry

The legendary leaf-bug. Photo taken last week near Woodstock, NY. We are not the only nature-fakers out there.

Now We Know

… what these pairs of spray-painted dots are for:

But the people out in the field dealing with the pipiens [a mosquito] problem are not city workers but exterminators—in particular, the men and women at Kingsway Exterminating. Motto: “We kill with skill.” They are a family business, operated by Richard Kourbage, who responded to a call for bids from the city after the West Nile outbreaks.

Kourbage and his men visit each catch basin in the city, over 200,000 of them. In crews of two dozen men, they visit each about four times. They use bikes to speed the trip—folding bikes that can fit in cars or be taken on subways. At first, the men were mistaken for terrorists and reported to police. Now the police are aware of them. So they don’t repeat treatment of a single catch basin, they leave a colored dot on the basin when they’re finished; the history of the city’s war with pipiens is written on our curbs. “We’re not allowed to use red or orange,” says Kourbage. “We’re limited by the city to certain colors. Black we did once. Silver we’ve used.”

“Out For Blood” by Robert Sullivan, in NY Magazine, May 20, 2012

Thanks, Simone!

Weedy Proposal

I just finished a proposal for Brooklyn Utopias: Park Space, Play Space in and around Old Stone House Gallery in Park Slope. Here it is:

.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

“Exquisite complex beings in their energy webs inhabiting the fertile corners of the urban world in accord with the rules of wild systems, the visible hardy stalks and stems of vacant lots and railroads, the persistent raccoon squads, bacteria in the loam and in our yogurt… Civilization is permeable, and could be as inhabited as the wild is. “ – Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

“Weed: a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As an intervention into the lawn of Washington Park, I would like to allow the grass and weeds to grow freely within a confined shape of a 12-pointed star, approximately 10 feet in diameter. I choose this geometric shape as a nod to the aesthetic conventions of ornamental gardens. Over the course of the exhibition, as the plant-life within this region grows, the star shape will become more and more defined.

I am interested in interrogating conventions of public landscaping. What forms and species of vegetation do we consider to be beautiful, useful, and wholesome? Although we normally value lawns in a public space, a lawn is in fact a monoculture. It reduces biodiversity and interrupts local ecological balance. There is evidence that allowing a lawn to convert itself into woodlawn is better for the environment, decreasing storm-water runoff and lessening the need for watering.[1]

[1] In Philadelphia, Going Green or Growing Wild? By Anne Raver – July 20, 2011 – New York Times

 .

INSTALLATION PLANS & LOGISTICS:

At first I will mark off the 12-pointed star shape with wooden stakes and string. I will visit regularly to clip the area directly around the border. Once the grass and weeds grow tall enough so that the shape is clearly visible, I will be able to remove the string and stakes.

At the end of the exhibition, I will work in consultation with the landscaping crew to bring the site back to its original condition.

.

SKETCHES:

Newsprint

Trying not to leave holiday prep til last minute this year. Over the weekend I made this polka-dot wrapping paper from scrap newsprint.

Last year I picked a huge bag of it up off the street near 14th & 6th. A store was throwing it away. Bringing it home on the rush-hour PATH was pretty intense, but really worth it.  I’m almost finished with the bag; I need to find another one soon!