Walking through Madison Square Park at lunch today I noticed this fall's art installation, a number of wooden huts lifted high in the trees.
[artist's sketch | image source]
The Tree Huts by Tadashi Kawamata are on view from October 2 to December 31. Attentive readers of this blog will recognize the artist's name from a post in early 2006, when I expressed admiration for his 1989 installation in Toronto.
[Toronto Project 1989 | image source]
His Tree Huts certainly don't pack the same punch as the vortex of wood above, but similar themes can be found in both pieces. Of course both use standard size lumber, though more importantly both interact with their context by wrapping or overlapping with the existing context. In the case of Toronto the context is made up of old buildings, while in the case of Madison Square Park the context is, of course, trees. The inaccessible huts appear to be punctured by the tree trunks, though the dynamism of the older and larger installation is eschewed in favor of a focus on typology: the huts resemble tree houses and recall those childlike creations.
At the moment the raised huts blend with their surroundings enough that they are not readily apparent. One must look up to notice them. Once the trees lose their leaves the huts should become much more prominent in the park, though not as alien as the artist's installation of a hut in Basel last year. Tadashi's first project in New York City since 1992 inserts private objects into a public space "as a method of renegotiating the meaning of both." The rickety objects also bring to mind homeless shelters and the treatment of the homeless in the city. There are certainly other meanings one can derive from the installation, certainly a merit of the piece, even though it lacks the visceral appeal of some of the artist's previous artworks.