Want to Commune With the Spirit of Basquiat? Green-Wood Cemetery, Burial Ground to Creative Legends, Is Launching an Artist Residency

The nine-month residency is open to local mid-career artists.

Green-Wood Cemetery. Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery.

Green-Wood Cemetery is the eternal resting place of such creative geniuses as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Leonard Bernstein—among some other 560,000 souls. Now, the sprawling, 438-acre burial ground has announced that it is seeking the company of one more artist, but instead of eternity, the incoming artist will join the cemetery as part of in a nine-month residency.

The artist will be provided with a studio space from next January to September in the landmarked Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, a striking 1873 Victorian structure that had long been closed to the public. Green-Wood’s little-known but impressively vast archives will be opened to the artist. The trove includes photographs, documents, and other ephemera dating back to the cemetery’s 1838 incorporation. 

Green-Wood is home to thousands of statues, mausoleums, large-scale monuments, and tombstones, and has a long history as a cultural destination. The cemetery was founded as part of the garden cemetery movement of the mid-19th century, which re-envisioned burial grounds as a return to nature, while simultaneously providing a civic space for the public during an age of urban overcrowding.  

Creative Time Presents Sophie Calle's "Here Lies the Secrets of the Green-Wood Cementery." Courtesy of Creative Time/photographer Leandro Justen.

Sophie Calle’s Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery. Courtesy of Creative Time/photographer Leandro Justen.

In recent years, Green-Wood has hosted a series of exhibitions rooted in that history. In 2017, Sophie Calle opened Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, a 25-year-long site-specific installation. Other projects have included I Am Fertile Ground (2019) by Janine Antoni and, in 2017, Matthew Jensen’s Among Trees and Stones: Walking Green-Wood, a cemetery-wide installation of found objects, historical artifacts, and photographs by the artist.  

“A lot of institutions throughout the country have an artist-in-residency and I think as Green-Wood is emerging as a cultural destination in Brooklyn that having an artist-in-residence is the next part of our growth,” Harry Weil, director of public programs at Green-Wood, told the Brooklyn Paper.

Applications are open to local mid-career artists through September 2, 2020.

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