Artists will interact with installation at Madison Sq. Park

A sculpture by Josiah McElheny will become a performance space. (Photo courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the arrival of Madison Square Park’s new summer installation next Tuesday comes a handful of artists who have created performance pieces to interact with the work in week-long residencies. Prismatic Park, a sculpture by artist Josiah McElheny made of glass tile and wood creating individual performance spaces for the artists, offers a translucent sound wall for experimental music, a reflective floor for dance and a vaulted pavilion for poetry.

Artist MC Hyland, who will be doing the first poetry residency for the project from July 4 to 9, won’t be using the space for typical poetry readings but decided to expand on a project she’s already been working on that is more interactive than straight performance. Hyland has a degree in book arts in addition to an MFA in poetry, and when she went back to school for English literature recently, she started reading more poetry by William Wordsworth, who wrote some of his work about walking and talking with friends.

“I’ve been doing a project called A Walking Poets’ Library, which is based off of a writing practice where I’ll go for a walk with someone, walk for an hour with them and I write them a poem,” she said. “With Prismatic Park, I’ll be taking a next step in that project and starting to make books out of those poems.”

Hyland said that she’ll start the residency with a couple books made from the poems she’s already written for the project but the goal is to get park-goers involved in the installation.

“The hope is that other people will be joining in filling this library with books,” she said. “It’s a lot less reading-based and more interactive. A lot of it is about being in the park and having a feeling for how people were moving in the park, so I want to involve people who are moving through the park, coming from work, getting a sandwich from Eataly.”

Hyland said that she got involved with Prismatic Park her and asked if she wanted to get participate. Hyland has been participating in the Poets House Showcase for at least the last five years, contributing handmade books from her publishing company, DoubleCross Press.

The residencies will rotate with musicians, dancers and poets from week to week, beginning with sound artist Lea Bertucci from June 13 to 18 for the opening of the installation. Nonprofit organization Blank Forms invited Bertucci in addition to five other musicians who deal with public space and community through their art for week-long residencies. Artists from Poets House will also be in the space for a week at a time, although Danspace Project invited three groups of dancers to participate for two-week blocks instead of just one. The installation and residencies will run through October 8.

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