"Civic Action" Examines Art's Role In Development

The Noguchi museum in New York has asked four artists to take a crack at city planning by offering a new way of interpreting the construction of urban fabric. Martha Schwendener evaluates the results.

The artists' responses to their brief include the installation of 'drivable grass' along Manhattan's Broadway, proposed by Rirkrit Tiravanija as a subversive comment on property and sustainability. Mary Miss focused on four smokestacks that tower over the museum's neighborhood in Long Island City, offering a plan that would convert them into an 'eco-feedback center registering environmental changes that would be visible to the community.'

"The question, however, is whether these projects will make it out of the gallery and into the world. The stated goal of "Civic Action" is to "spark an ongoing dialogue" between the creative sector and the community," but similar efforts have failed in the past.

Schwendener considers the institutions as the major power brokers, and suggests they commit to supporting one artist for five or ten years rather than four teams for less than a year.

Full Story: Policy, Painted Or Set In Stone

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