The Hungarian-born, New York-based Agnes Denes hardly needs our little blurb to draw attention to her work. Lauded since the early Eighties, the artist has filled NYC’s urban landscape with some of its most puzzling and transcendental public sculptures, including the 1982 installation of a two-acre golden wheat field in the Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park. (A toxic landfill preceded it.)

Anyway, we thought Denes’ latest projectthe Living Pyramidmerited mentioning, mainly for its timeliness in mixing the aesthetic with the activist, which a large number of young local artists are now doing, and because she was amongst the first.

Living Pyramid recently unveiled in the Socrates Sculpture Park, along the northern waterfront area in Long Island City. It is Denes’ first major NYC work since Wheatfield (1982) and its interest in the resilience and unpredictability of nature is resolute. (She’s also approached the city about building new, stabilizing dunes in the Rockaways.)

Pyramid stands at 30 feet and is a mix of metal and organic material. For now, it mimics the ancient architecture of the Egyptian pyramids, but as the plant matter lining its ascending stairs grows out, how the sculpture will look a month or so from now is anyone’s guess. (She invited guests to help her plant flowers on the structure back in May.)

The city can manicure it, one supposes, but it’s far more interesting to imagine the creation of humans becoming subsumed by the mysterious, free hand of the cosmos. Alas, the park’s press release says the sculpture will come down (or move) after summer. (Really?)

Should it remain, I can’t help comparing Pyramid to those old burial mounds in Midlands Ireland and seaside England, where five millennia after their construction (by the lost craftsmen of the Druid tribes), they were rediscovered accidentally. Cows grazed the tops of these mounds, each covered over by wild grass and weeds, until archeologists carefully removed the excess and found man-made structures and artistic rock carvings underneath.

If Living Pyramids outlasts civilized NYC (which it could well do), what will they say of us millennia from now? (Brian Chidester)

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