Art Activism: Wheatfields for New York

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.20.05 PMAbout the Exhibition

Agnes Denes (b.1931, Budapest, Hungary) and her assistants have planted and harvested 1.5 acres of wheat at the Battery Park Landfill. The planting consisted of digging 285 furrows by hand, clearing off rocks and garbage, and then placing the seeds by hand and covering the furrows. Each furrow took two to three hours. Denes and her assistants maintained the field for four months, set up an irrigation system, weeded, put down fertilizers, cleared off rocks, boulders and wires by hand, and sprayed against mildew. On August 16th, Denes harvested the crop, yielding almost 1000 pounds of healthy, golden wheat. Denes describes the project as a “symbol, a universal concept. It represents food, energy, commerce, world trade, economics. It refers to mismanagement and world hunger. It is an intrusion into the Citadel, a confrontation of High Civilization. Then again, it is also Shangri-La, a small paradise, one’s childhood, a hot summer afternoon in the country, peace. Forgotten values, simple pleasures.”

Wheatfields for Manhattan is the second in a Public Art Fund-sponsored series called The Urban Environmental Site Program, whose aim is to bring interest to empty or abandoned areas along the city’s waterfront. The previous project, Alan Finkel’s View for the Catenary Curve, is a water tank viewing station that frames a section of the Brooklyn Bridge in relation to Manhattan’s skyline. It is located in Brooklyn’s Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park.

For the realization of Wheatfields the Public Art Fund is grateful for the support of the New York State Council for the Arts and the cooperation of the Urban Development Corporation.

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