This recycling artist gives dead trees new life in the most popular borough for dead New Yorkers

Art East On View Urbanism
#suspendedforest (banana999 / Instagram)

#suspendedforest (banana999 / Instagram)

The holidays are here when the Coniferous Tree Exception kicks in. This New York City ordinance allows dead pine trees to be sold on city sidewalks in the weeks leading up to Christmas. One true marker of the season’s end is the Christmas trees that line those same sidewalks in January, awaiting DSNY pickup.

In years past, one artist has revivified these trees, albeit illegally, creating semi-real pine forests from discarded trees in marginal urban spaces. This year, the trees will have a second chance at life in the most popular place for dead New Yorkers: Queens.

Suspended Forest under the BQE in 2013 (marymajella / Instagram)

Suspended Forest under the BQE in 2013 (marymajella / Instagram)

In 2012 and 2013, San Francisco–based artist Michael Neff rounded up 35 Christmas trees from the curbs of Brooklyn. He hung them with twine from a metal pipe and displayed them under a BQE overpass, at Metropolitan Avenue and North 6th Street, in Williamsburg. Within a matter of hours, the trees were removed and discarded by the city.

This year, Neff is reprising his installation, legitimated and indoors, at the Knockdown Center, in Maspeth, Queens. A time-lapse video (above) shows the installation in process. Working a cherry picker, Neff and his team suspend coniferous trees of slightly varying sizes from the ceiling in a neat grid.

(wattsei / Instagram)

(wattsei / Instagram)

In a statement on the exhibition’s event page, Neff describes the advantages that a change of venue con(i)fers:

The exhibition at Knockdown Center allows for a much different experience, most importantly time for the trees to shed their needles into halos on the smooth concrete floor below. Paired with the subtle pine fragrance of the trees and the opportunity for quiet contemplation, the exhibition encourages repeated viewing.

Suspended Forest is on view from January 9th to January 31st.

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