Genuine Articles

Remember Peter Caeser Alberti? The people of Jerusalem’s contribution to New York’s history made by an inscribed ivy bed in a grove of fifteen cedars? Or the foundation stone on Emma Lazarus, a gift of the state of Israel?

Was that no, no and no?

There are so many monuments erected on New York City’s parkland and Battery Park is home to more than 20 tributes alone. Among them “The Sphere,” a temporary installation of the sculpture that used to stand in the WTC plaza as a monument to world peace since 1971, rededicated with an eternal flame—for the longest time, my roommate called it the hobo fire, having only recently discovered it as an addendum to the victims of 9/11. Peter Caeser Alberti was the first Italian settler, landed in New York June 2nd, 1695. His bronze plaque on granite, dedicated 1959, was stolen and has been a granite marker on plinth since 1985, proclaiming June 2nd to be “Alberti Day.” With the beautiful Irish Hunger Memorial nearby—resembling an abandoned Irish farm with stone walls and wildflowers—oh, and Castle Clinton (the ticketing center for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island), visit the all too inconspicuous memorials at The Battery and the dozens of Battery Park City Parks in the breeze of an afternoon. Whatever formally constitutes a monument, they are all sprawling meditations on life and death, creation and destruction.

Each object aches for subjective engagement, for each unifying and decomposing force of life to communicate its meaning. Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park with Calvert Vaux in the 1850s, hated memorials, lamenting the inevitable anonymity that would dawn on many of the individuals or groups of people they honored.

The memorials presented in Kim Stringfellow’s installation and video “Greetings from the Salton Sea,” on the other hand, elevate shores of eroding carcasses, tarnishing caravans and pink, pink foam as brimming with growth even as they suggest decay and obsolescence.

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Perhaps my Teardrop Park is in between—such an oddball neither the memorials of Battery Park Conservancy and not quite fitting the profile of the other Battery Park City Parks. The proverbial shadow of all its actors, cast by precisely positioned heliostats, steals (like the monuments), if even for a moment, the unity of our bodies. Everywhere: A swift brush of dirt or a close looking at the roots of the trees, exposes orange and purple pipes. The constant betrayal of its au natural character engenders a feeling of simultaneous presence and immateriality.

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~ by nataliekmtung on November 1, 2015.

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