Charles Simonds

Stanley Tankel Memorial Hanging Gardens, 1976

Stanley Tankel was a symbolic figure in the struggle for environmental protection in the United States.  In the early 1970s, he managed to block the massive urban development programme in the Bay of New York, thus saving the wild beaches of Jamaica Bay.  As part of a competition for the production of a memorial erected in his honour, Simonds came up with the idea of preserving the buildings left in a skeletal state, as symbols of the sudden closure of the programme.  Rather than a costly demolition job, the artist proposed returning these ghost-like frames back to nature, by getting plants to grow along their concrete ridges.  Used as a Youth Hostel, these “green spaces” became a positive symbol in the struggle for an environment with a human face. 

Aurélien Vernant

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