PHYLLIS ODESSEY

skillful and benign problem-solving

Agnes Denes, Wheatfield, 1982

11,000 Trees, 11,000 People, 400 years, what is it? Tree Mountain.   A huge manmade mountain measuring 420 meters long, 270 meters wide, 38 meters high, elliptical in shape, planted with people from all over the world at the Pinzio gravel pits near Ylojarvi, Finland. This massive earthwork and reclamation project is the pioneering work of environmental artist Agnes Denes.  “The trees must outlive the present era and, by surviving, carry out concepts into an unknown time in the future.  If civilization as we know it ends or changes, there will be a reminder in the form of a strange forest for our descendants to ponder.  They may reflect on an undertaking that did not serve personal needs but the common good and the highest ideals of humanity and its environment while benefiting future generations.” From the exhibition guide at The Shed:  Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates.

Agnes Denes, Tree Mountain, from the slide show at The Shed about the project

Tree Mountain

Tree Mountain

Wheatfield  – A Confrontation (1982) Commissioned by The Public Art Fund
“My decision to plant a wheat field in Manhattan instead of designing just another public sculpture grew out of the long-standing concern and need to call attention to our misplaced priorities and deteriorating human values.

Manhattan is the richest, most professional, most congested and without a doubt, most fascinating island in the world. To attempt to plant, sustain, and harvest two acres of wheat here, wasting valuable real estate and obstructing the machinery by going against the system, was an effrontery that made it the powerful paradox I had sought for the calling to account.” Agnes Denes
The site of the Wheatfield is now the site of Battery Park City.  The above two projects, were the works out of the exhibition where I comprehended  Denes’ narrative.  Its worth watching the two video links in the blog to get a better idea of what these projects were all about.

Agnes Denes, Absolutes and Intermediates, The Shed, New York 2019.  Commissioned by The Shed for Denes exhibition.  Denes designed this Pyramid, 30 by 22.5 feet at its base adn 17 feet tall.  It is comprised of nearly 6,000 compostable 3-D printed bricks.  According to the exhibition notes, “Dene’s Crystal Pyramid follows a mathematical formula that results in a gracious probability curve between points”.

In my work everything, including symmetry, is created through a conscious use of instinct, intellect and intuition. When I visualize (give form to) processes such as math and logic, or when I apply X-ray technology and electron microscopy to organic and crystal structures, one might say I reveal well-defined symmetries and anti symmetries. When I deal with abstract concepts definitions blur and the symmetries go beyond ordinary mathematical confines.”

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