Client: Jillian Rene
Location: Newburgh, NY, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $2,500
Site, property owner of 9 Lutheran Street
Jillian Rene Design
Installed on the side of 9 Lutheran Street as part of the first Terrain Biennial Newburgh. This started as a conflation of a Russell Lee photograph that shows a house covered in used tires, and one of the seven Wonders of the World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In my mind, I was juxtaposing images of our recent American past with images of destroyed landscapes in the Middle East throughout history. Though my initial focus was on the recent atrocities inflicted upon that area by the American Armed Forces, I kept coming back to descriptions of the hanging gardens, which were many, various, and somewhat apocryphal. By turning those thoughts toward the future, I compiled them into a simple construction of plentiful objects discarded and polished up for efficient reuse. The waste products of our follies can perhaps be salvaged and reconfigured to approximate our former selves. It’s part ghost story, part lament. Water daily and give it plenty of sunlight. Morning glories will appear soon enough.
The goal of making a hanging garden of salvaged materials was the initial starting point. I had worked on some preliminary studies in the years beforehand and was ready to scale up to a major installation. The folks at tthe first Terrain Biennial Newburgh were instrumental in finding a site that allowed my vision to be realized without compromise.
The directors of the Terrain Biennial paired me with a local property owner with a building that has a large wall with high visibility to a nearby main street and southern exposure. I had told them my intention to make a hanging garden and they delivered. The project was installed as imagined, though the time allowed was ultimately not sufficient to see the project bloom, literally. The property owner and I agreed on the scope and impact of the installation on her building and she gave me the keys to manage the project. I collected all the materials myself, the tires coming from an illegal dump site behind the Newburgh Mall, and prepared everything in advance of the installation which happened over the course off two days. The anchors bolted in and the chains suspended on a Thursday, and the tires hung with soil inside on the following Friday. All work was completed by myself, alone, largely due to budgetary constraints and the small scale of the project.