Agnes Denes
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A Project for the Edgemere Landfill, Queens, New York © 2014 Agnes Denes

Last year I embarked on a project to create a forest in New York on the last open space before it is swallowed up by condos and shopping malls. The area where I planted and harvested Wheatfield-A Confrontation of 2 acres of wheat in 1982 became Battery Park City, a complex of office spaces and condos and the city reversed to its old congestion. The pressure to develop is ever present, more so in a city like New York. In dealing with climate change and environmental necessities, this project magnifies the need for the right kind of development. Cultural and environmental.

My other forests around the world respond to important concerns beyond mere public art projects. Tree Mountain - A Living Time Capsule, the forest in Finland is one of the largest reclamation sites in the world and a Forest for Australia in Melbourne has survived the 6-year draught and is visible on Google Earth.

The place for my forest is the Edgemere landfill in Queens, 117 acres of barren land where I plan to plant 100,000 trees specifically suited to survive in this environment once the soil is prepared. This environmental project also addresses Far Rockaway's public health problems through the positive effects of a forest to remove carbon dioxide from the air purifying it, clean ground water and create a healthy ecosystem through natural biological processes for the whole city and its surroundings.

The importance of this project is not only to help with health conditions but to transform a treeless, barren landfill into a thriving forest. More than merely cleaning the air and ground water, a place of beauty will be created that people will be able to visit and take pleasure in, a destination to give them strength for the challenges of modern life.

New York is known for its tall buildings and culture, now it will be known as the home of a unique forest, a living art gallery, a peace park, a tourist destination, a contrast to brick buildings and congestion, a sanctuary. It will incorporate a visitors' center, cafe, rest rooms, a place for important celebrations, exhibitions, concerts, with parking facilities along its perimeters. It will create many jobs and millions in tourism. The forestation of the peninsula will eventually become a coastal ecosystem. People will be able to participate in tree planting, maintaining the forest, involve class projects for schools, and other participatory projects with universities.

A FOREST FOR NEW YORK will become a destination from around the world, a pride of New York City. The project is sponsored by the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and its extensive advisory board.

© 2014 Agnes Denes



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