New Yorkers have a strange relationship with nature. We like our trees and grass, but contained in organized parks.
A new video by artist Kota Ezawa riffs on this theme with a public installation for Madison Square Park. In “City of Nature,” Ezawa stitched together 70 clips of nature scenes from popular movies and rendered them in animation — a practice he’s been perfecting for the last 10 years. The six-minute video will screen on a loop daily starting March 31.
Your film stitches together 70 clips from 20 films. What was your selection process like? A lot of it came from my own personal references, movies that I’ve known for a long time that are in my personal possession. ... A lot of [the films] also came out of conversations with friends.
You must see a lot of movies. I think movies are part of everyone’s life. I teach in a film program and I work with filmmakers, some of my students are aspiring filmmakers. My daughter and I go to see films. I live in San Francisco but I also spend part of the year in Berlin, so every time I’m on an airplane to Berlin, I get to see two films. So, yeah, films are around me.
Do you see many films for pleasure? That’s the tricky thing about being an artist — the distinction that some people have between work and pleasure is with me a very blurry line. The work that I do is very pleasureful. There of course also are tough moments and stressful periods, but ultimately it’s something I’ve chosen to do.
Public art is something that is very important to New York and its residents. Do you encounter this attitude in other cities? I think New York is special. There’s really an appreciation for art that I haven’t found anywhere else.
If you go: Stills from “City of Nature,”on view in Madison Square Park, March 31-May 15, daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Other public art installations around the city
‘Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads’
Location: Pulitzer Fountain at Central Park, Fifth Ave. at 60th St.
Date: May 2-July 15
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei re-creates the fountain clock of the Yuanming Yuan, which was installed outside Beijing in the 18th century.
'No Bills: nbART Showcases North Brooklyn’s History Through Sound’
Location: Sites in Williamsburg and Greenpoint
Date: May 2011
Artist Nick Yulman spent the winter recording oral histories of north Brooklyn from its residents. This spring, he uses the tales in a series of audio-mechanical dioramas that will be visible through peepholes in fences at various sites.
‘The Andy Monument’
Location: Union Square at 17th St. and Broadway
Date: March 30-Oct. 2
Rob Pruitt’s sculpture commemorating Andy Warhol will sit just outside the building that housed the Pop artist’s final Factory, which was there from 1973-84.
Location: Rooftops adjacent to the High Line, southern terminus
Date: Now-Jan. 2012
In a series of sculptures, Kim Beck mimics the skeleton framework of billboard advertisements.