Once a heavily industrial area, Long Island City has been experiencing rapid change over the past few years. As many formerly commercial neighborhoods are being rezoned as residential, community activists and developers are at odds as to the best way to reinvigorate the area. Among the most contested issues is the development of the waterfront, which is both a vital public space and plum property for high-rise residential construction.
This debate inspired a collaborative project between two anchors of the neighborhood, the Noguchi Museum and the Socrates Sculpture Park. Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City brought together four artists each with a team of architects and urban planners to develop projects that will “encourage enlightened development.” In the first phase of the project, the artists’ proposals and progress were on view at the Noguchi Museum, and now, beginning May 13, the artists’ visions will be realized through sculpture, installation, and participatory activities at Socrates Sculpture Park.
Rirkrit Tiravanija has created a structure in the park that will serve as an open kitchen for local vendors. He will be serving his signature rice and curry dish on opening day to promote socializing and community building among neighbors. Natalie Jeremijenko, whose background is in science, is concerned with creating quantifiable change through designs made to improve urban health. Jeremijenko will teach workshop participants how to make AgBags, Tyvek bags that are designed hang from windows or fire escapes and make urban farming a possibility for any city dweller.
Artists George Trakas and Mary Miss have been working with the public to help them imagine a better future for the neighborhood. Trakas has produced a series of proposals for public spaces on the waterfront using the existing ecology and structures. Miss has been working with local artists and community members to develop their own proposals for open spaces. Both artists encourage thinking about how to optimize existing space and create sustainable neighborhoods.
Visit Socrates Sculpture Park on Sunday, May 13 for the opening day of Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City.