Just because Jane Jacobsen supported it does not mean it is a good idea.
"Time Landscape" (1978) is a prominently located land art piece by Alan Sonfist recreating a pre-Columbian Manhattan forest. Or as Michael Pollen describes it:
A Pedestrian standing at the corner of Houston Street and La Guardia Place in Manhattan might think that the wilderness had reclaimed a tiny corner of the city’s grid here. Ten years ago, an environmental artist persuaded the city to allow him to create on this site a “Time Landscape” showing New Yorkers what Manhattan looked like before the white man arrived. On a small hummock he planted oak, hickory, maples, junipers, and sassafras, and they’ve grown up to form a nearly impenetrable tangle, which is protected from New Yorkers by a steel fence now thickly embroidered with vines. It’s exactly the sort of “garden” of which Emerson and Thoreau would have approved—for the very reason that it’s not a garden.
A project like the Time Landscape is not so much of interest for itself but for what people make of it over time. A garden, even an anti-garden, is just a place to be in, a forest, even a cryptoforest, is a state of mind, a psychological condition that attracts shrinks and social health workers and the rest of the Cuckoo Club.
The Village Voice website has a 2007 article on a volunteer mass clean-up that sought to eradicate invasive (non-native) species as well as the creation of sight-lines to prevent people from hiding in the bushes.
"Although a chain-link fence encloses the area and entrance is by key, there is a hole in the fence and it is possible to climb over the waist-high barrier."
The fence is not to frame the art but to keep art lovers outside of it.
Nonnative plants and weeds have spread to the garden, and the sight of morning glories clinging to the fence troubled many.
“The concept was to have native species,” said Tobi Bergman, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Parks Committee, in a phone interview before the cleanup. “But there is a reason we call them invasive species: They have no natural enemies.”
Sonfist dismissed these criticisms.
“This is an open lab, not an enclosed landscape,” he said. “The intention was never to keep out all nonnative species, but rather to see how they come into the space with time.”
The Time Landscape is a hegemonic plant community that refuses to interact, like a silent Indian who is the last of his tribe and who refuses to engage with his own feelings or those of outsiders and instead just waits and waits and waits.
In terms of PR the fence is the problem: in contrast with the Ramble it doesn't allow visitors who in turn cannot become participants as they create a bond with the landscape.
As a challenge to the peasant obsession with productivity, order and plow-schedules the problem with Time Landscape is that the fence is not high enough. It functions as a screen on which urban sub-conscious fears and phobias are projected: 500 year after Robin Hood the outlaws are still hiding in the forest.
|Google streetview on Time Landscape.