St. Nicholas Park Public Art Proposal

Description: The proposed installation will consist of  four black and white beds sited at the southwestern end of St. Nicholas Park’s lawn, at 135th St.  Each bed measures 4’in length, is 2’ wide, and stands 2’ 11” at the headboard's tallest point.  They will function as public seating, secured by metal stacks and built using industry standard materials for outdoor placement.  Each unit will weigh approximately 200 pounds and will be constructed using welded steel pipe as an armature.  Rigid foam and an acrylic polymer/mineral resin will be used to create the form.  The surface will be detailed and sealed with automotive grade paint.

Placing beds in an urban natural area is meant to prompt the viewer to question the two poles of the Romantic view of nature:  as a sacrosanct external world and a self-sufficient inner experience. Our notion of nature as a pristine wilderness, unsullied by civilization’s polluting presence, has its origins in the late 18th century. Nature seemed to offer a respite from the transgressions of so-called civilized society, then embarking on the initial phases of industrialization.

The problem with this Romantic conception is that nature is set on a pedestal, something forever destined to remain “over there,” somehow separate from our daily lives.  It marks the difference between “us” and “it.” The presence of beds in St. Nicholas Park will confront the viewer with this disjunction, and attempt to bridge the divide by creating a dialog between a public space designed as an escape from the urban environment and a private space in which we all seek refuge every night.  The beds will offer a space for reflection on the future of dwelling together in a vulnerable world.

Mockup for Respite Installation

Model for Respite Installation