Now that Christmas is over, the streets of New York are littered with sad, dried out Christmas trees. Wanting to do an installation with dead evergreens for some time, artist Michael Neff took inspiration from the stacks of trees on the streets of North Brooklyn and created a swaying, pine-scented public installation under the BQE at the highly trafficked intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and North 6th Street.
Neff decided to create something on the streets of Williamsburg last year, and chose this long abandoned gated spot under the BQE. Scouring the streets with a friend, he collected the used up trees that crowded the sidewalks of Brooklyn and hauled a dozen or so dead trees to his chosen spot, which is a stone’s throw from the Lorimer Street L stop as well as many bars and restaurants in the area. Hoisting each tree up, he hung them with heavy twine at the same level, along a horizontal pipe under the overpass. Hanging in unison, the row of trees sways in the wind like ghosts of Christmas past, but also evoke a somber undertone, like bodies hanging from nooses.
Neff’s installation is beautiful, infusing greenery in a stark industrial landscape, even if the trees are dead. But the sheer amount of trees hanging together also brings the excess of Christmas to mind. Intentional or not, the hanging trees are a visible example of our throw away culture. Neff’s installation feels at once like a vigil to the fallen trees, but also as a way to bring nature to a forgotten industrial setting.
All images © Michael Neff