Futuristic 'Urban Forest' Slated for East Village Park

By Serena Solomon on June 6, 2013 8:44am 

 A rendering of the art installation for First Park, "Urban Forest."
A rendering of the art installation for First Park, "Urban Forest."
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Jieun Yang and Ji Young Kim.

EAST VILLAGE — A futuristic "urban forest" with tree trunks traded for mirrored poles and leaves replaced by translucent panels could be headed to an East Village park as a summer art installation.

The design, created by artists Jieun Yang and Ji Young Kim, beat out dozens of others  vying for the spot in First Park, located between East First and Houston streets near Second Avenue.

The sculpture, called "Urban Forest," is awaiting approval from the city's Parks Department and will likely be installed from July through August.

"It had to reflect on the idea of a notion of movement and define the space as a backdrop for our events," said Silva Ajemian, a co-director of the group First Street Green, which manages the events and installations held in the park. "There is a piece at the very top of each pole that is lightly held to the post so it waves a little bit with the air and atmosphere."

Ajemian said the design's use of mirrored materials will also reflect the movement of park guests who visit the installation.

"It will have a very delicate presence in the site," she said, adding it would enhance the atmosphere of numerous events held at the park, including workshops, lectures and meetings.

The park, a formerly vacant lot notorious for rats, was converted into a functional public space thanks to the Guggenheim Museum, which brought its traveling "lab" there in 2011.

First Street Green hosted a competition on May 19 to determine which artwork would be installed, with a panel of judges determining the winner among 40 entrants, according to Ajemian.

"It [the winning design] is one system that could be produced taller or short," she said. "It had a flexibility that appealed to us."

Yang and Kim are both New York City-based artists who are also architects. 

Once the artwork is installed, events themed to the sculpture and the notion of "urban movement" will be held by First Street Green's partner organization Superfront

The design will be pitched to Community Board 3 on June 13 and requires final approval from the Parks Department.

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