By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Madison Square Park Conservancy announced on Tuesday that artist Maya Lin will design the 40th public art commission for the park, set to debut on June 8, 2020. The new “site-responsive” installation will focus on the impact of climate change on woodlands around the world. The piece, titled “Ghost Forest,” will take the form of a grove of spectral cedar trees sourced from the surrounding region, and will be presented in contrast to Madison Square Park’s existing tree line.
Lin worked with the Conservancy to source dead trees from the tristate area, including from the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, which is a site that has suffered severe deprivation. The Atlantic Cedars that will be installed as part of the piece were afflicted by extreme salinization during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as a result of flooding and salt-water inundation, and were slated to be cleared to encourage the regeneration of surrounding trees.
Lin’s piece takes its name from the natural phenomenon of “ghost forests,” which are tracts of forestland that have died off as a result of climate change, due to sea-level rise and salt water infiltration. Lin frequently addresses climate change in her work and this installation will serve as a call to action for the public visitors who pass through the park on a daily basis.
The installation intends to emphasize the grim reality of this naturally-occurring phenomenon to the public in a dense urban environment and encourages viewers to consider natural practices that can help restore and protect the ecosystem.