Artist’s ‘Suspended Forest’ Gives New Yorkers a Last Chance to See and Smell Christmas Trees

It's a fragrant installation.

Michael Neff,
Michael Neff, "Suspended Forest" at the Knockdown Center. Photo: Michael Neff, via Flickr.
Michael Neff, "Suspended Forest" at the Knockdown Center. Photo: Michael Neff, courtesy the Knockdown Center.

Michael Neff, “Suspended Forest” at the Knockdown Center.
Photo: Michael Neff, courtesy the Knockdown Center.

“What better way to reflect and recover from 2015’s end and begin the new year than to wander quietly through a fragrant forest of reclaimed evergreens suspended in the air?” artist Michael Neff asked in a statement. Each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, North Americans purchase over 30 million Christmas trees, each destined for the trash.

For those sad that Christmas is over, the artist is offering an extended taste of holiday cheer with his new exhibition “Suspended Forest,” at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens.

Michael Neff, "Suspended Forest" at the Knockdown Center. Photo: Michael Neff, via Flickr.

Michael Neff, “Suspended Forest” at the Knockdown Center.
Photo: Michael Neff, via Flickr.

The project immediately brings to mind Klara Lidén‘s 2012 exhibition, “Pretty Vacant,” at New York’s Reena Spaulings Fine Art, which filled the gallery with abandoned Christmas trees. Where Neff’s trees are hung from the ceiling, suspended in a grid, for her show Lidén created a dense forest that became an obstacle course for gallery-goers entering the space.

“When I visited, I sat down fearing grubs and bedbugs, feeling lonely, unable to see anything but the trees in front of me, cocooned, a living chrysalis,” wrote art critic Jerry Saltz in an article published artnet Magazine after visiting Lidén‘s installation.

"Klara Lidén: Pretty Vacant" at Reena Spaulings Fine Art. Photo: courtesy Smith & Ratliff.

“Klara Lidén: Pretty Vacant” at Reena Spaulings Fine Art.
Photo: courtesy Smith & Ratliff.

Although our initial thought was that Neff must owe a debt to Lidén, the two artists appear to have had the idea of breathing new life into old Christmas trees at the same time. In 2012, they must have been simultaneously scouring the city streets for discarded pine trees, with Neff installing the first edition of Suspended Forest under the BQE in Williamsburg in early January, shortly before “Pretty Vacant” debuted on January 22.

Michael Neff, "Suspended Forest" at the Knockdown Center. Photo: Michael Neff, via Flickr.

Michael Neff, “Suspended Forest” at the Knockdown Center.
Photo: Michael Neff, via Flickr.

Neff‘s earlier, unauthorized efforts were quickly cleaned up by the city, but this time around gallery-goers will have a longer opportunity to engage with the Yuletide spirit.

The month-long show “allows for a much different experience, less renegade and more meditative,” said Neff. “Most importantly the duration of the installation gives time for the trees to shed their needles into halos on the smooth concrete floor below.”

Watch this video of the installation of “Suspended Forest”:

Michael Neff, “Suspended Forest,” is on view at the Knockdown Center.  


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