Hanging Garden

As with all of my site-specific installations, the creative process started as soon as I saw the exterior of this old abandoned factory in Paterson, New Jersey. Looking at the boarded up windows, eclectic architectural style and tall wooden tower, I felt as if I was being watched. Suddenly the strangeness of this site brought to mind the image of a giant insect in a state of deep sleep awaiting the first rays of sunlight.

Once inside, I first noticed the soft light squeezing in through the broken windows of the second floor. It spilled onto the concrete flats and then fell in to the lower abyss projecting an image similar to a waterfall. Then there was the strict placement of wooden beams that divided the space into geometric, square-like shapes. Plastic covered the windows of the first floor, and the rest of the space was inhabited by discarded metallic pieces and plants which miraculously grew through the concrete. Standing in this environment surrounded by shadows formed from light streaming through broken glass, hearing only the sound of water dripping from above, I had the feeling of being inside a living organism.

These initial responses lead to the creation of “Hanging Garden” – an installation composed of three large, insect constructions made primarily from found objects. “Fly”, “Dragonfly”, and “Caterpillar” were placed on the second floor balcony, and each represented a hybrid between a living creature and a machine. In this space—once the home of a thriving business with human presence, but now in ruins— living plants shoot up from a man-made substance and the insect survives!

“Fly” construction (14 x 13 x 4 feet) begins on the second floor and is placed through a hole down to the first floor where its lower portion is projected behind a screen. It is made primarily of a metallic web, and a light shines behind the plastic screen to spotlight the hanging form. The second sculpture, “Dragonfly,” (25 x 14 x 20 feet) is comprised of both traditional and contemporary found objects such as computer cards, metal pieces, an umbrella, a mirror, and a heater, and it serves as the centerpiece of the installation. The third insect, “Caterpillar,” is a 14 foot long tubular sculpture composed of synthetic plastic material. It includes a tail in the form of a flower arrangement made from toys and serves as a segue way between my installation and the rest of the factory space.

In this installation, my goal was to transform a lost wonder of the world (akin to the Hanging Garden of Babylon) into an environment dominated by harmony where everyone has a chance of survival. Often referenced in mythology, the giant insects serve as a connection between the past and the present. As the ultimate survivors of the universe, they remind us that no matter what happens, somehow life goes on. Like the city in which it resides, this abandoned factory has now become a symbol of the power of renewal.

Multi-Media Installation, found objects, metal, wood, screen, light
25 feet