Sept 6 – Oct 30, 2013
16 Harrison Place, Bushwick
[at the Morgan Ave L Train]
Head Gardener: Amy Anthony
Symposium Curator: Bonnie Rychlak
Project Manager: Maya Meissner
Flower Garden begins as a playful re-imagining of the iconic work, Seed Bed, created and first performed by Vito Acconci at Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in January 1972. Seed Bed was at once groundbreaking and notorious, as Acconci constructed a shallow wooden ramp inside the gallery and then lay hidden beneath it, masturbating for eight hours a day over a three week period to the sounds of gallery viewers walking above him, all the while accompanied by a low murmur of spoken sexual statements, declarations, and commands to the imagined “subjects” above. The performance and later video produced for the work represent a historical moment in performative “body art” and sexual theatre.
Flower Garden is constructed not as a critique (although it may contain “critiques”), but rather as a sculptural installation/digital video interface/symposium by a multi-generational group of female curators, artists, writers, and viewers, coming together as participants to reinterpret Acconci’s performance through a contemporary lens. Where Acconci represented the “seed” in his performance, the counterpoint here is the motif of the “garden,” the public or communal space where the “seeds” are made visible. Where Seed Bed was imagined as dark, hidden, and vaguely threatening, the Flower Garden is a shared space in the open sun, with a private component.
Over a three-week period from September 6th through October 30th, a walkable garden will be constructed that allows for the viewer to sit and relax in an open setting in Bushwick, the newest edge for the contemporary art scene. This installation/sculpture will also have another facet, its own “secret garden,” a private cabin designed for one woman at a time to recreate the masturbatory element of the original Seed Bed. The resulting coda is that this “private” moment thenproduces a flower to be planted by the participant, adding to the overall complexity of the shared space.
This is the discursive component that we envision can make the secret garden project a fully realized social event. The users of the cabin are pre-interviewed for a live link up to various social media sites to inquire (if desired) what thoughts or desires motivated them to seek out inclusion in this event. A second “post” interview follows (if desired), thus allowing the participant to reflect on their experience and to comment on their preconceptions. This video diary, as well as a guest book for participants’ signatures and comments, will serve as a permanent record for each flower planted in theFlower Garden.
Finally, a one-day symposium, organized by ArtHelix curator, Bonnie Rychlak, will be held on the last date of the event, engaging a group of the curators, artists and participants, thus completing the event with a critical discussion of the project.
Flower Garden is imagined as a deeply playful model for communal art engagement; public and private, open and closed, “sunny” and “dark” all at once.