Artful Green Dot

Alan Sonfist’s Time Landscape

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on June 18, 2009

Alan Sonfist Time Landscape The Time Landscape sits peacefully on the corner of LaGuardia Place and Houston Street, as busy walkers bustle around it everyday.   I’ve overlooked this earthwork for the past four years, perhaps because at first glance, it seems like any other  fenced garden, only a bit overgrown.  It’s also situated right next door to another community garden full of vegetables and neatly tended flowers.  However, Sonfist’s work asks viewers to think of their environment in ways that a normal garden doesn’t.

This fenced plot, installed in ’78, holds a “primeval forest,” made up of Pre-colonial plants that inhabited Manhattan before settlers began transforming it into the concrete landscape we know today. With this in mind, I see Sonfist’s piece as an intervention in daily life, much like a  living timecapsule that holds live objects.   Unlike others in the 1960’s Land Art Movement, Sonfist created an earthwork that exists alongside nature instead of in domination of it.

I took these photos this past weekend.  On  there are a few dozen pictures that capture the landscape as a whole, but  here, I’ve decided to post images that show some of the intimate details of the Time Landscape.  Regardless of what pictures you might see, every New Yorker should visit this piece at least once.











While taking these pictures, I found myself stooping awkwardley around the fence to get scenes of the landscapes interior, but I realize now that it must have been Sonfist’s intention to view the landscape in conjunction with the world around it.

Alan_Sonfist Timelandscape


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5 Responses

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  1. Eric Lemmon said, on June 18, 2009 at 10:00 PM

    This reminds me of the everglades, not because it is a tropical swamp full of gators, but because the beauty of the piece is not necessarily in the massive sweeping landscape, like a mountain back drop, some of those nature domination pieces you talk about or even the surrounding skyscrapers of Manhattan which seek to draw our eyes towards their tops, but in what is right there in front of you. In the everglades, you look around and it’s miles of grass in a foot of water (depending on the season), but if you look at your feet the diversity of life makes itself incredibly apparent. Maybe Sonfist is asking us to look at it inside the context of the city, but he’s also asking us to look at what’s at our feet.

  2. E. J. McAdams said, on June 19, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    It’s funny how different “your” photographic Time Landscape looks compared to “my” memory of Time Landscape. I never looked at it close up, always from across the street for some reason. The canopy as small as it is is what is memorable today as I try to conjure it up. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Henny said, on May 8, 2011 at 3:23 AM

      Thanks for the iisgnht. It brings light into the dark!

  3. […] art, but I wonder if Storm King actually accomplishes this. In many cases, I saw the artwork as an overly dominate force in the landscape while the natural surroundings in some parts seem primed just to fit the specific needs of the […]

  4. Diinah Fear said, on October 30, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    Thanks for the close up photos ..amazing really…Im doing an essay on Earth Art for a Fine Arts diploma course here in Australia. I like that this piece of earth art connects with Sonfist’s childhood ( as a kid he watched his fav Hemlock forests of the south Bronx disappear as the town was paved…he was deeply affected by loosing his special connection to someplace wild, in a big city…I guess) As an adult..its like he came back and reclamed a spot for nature and its great that these special plants survive here and continue to flower.

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