Art Program Intern: Christian Prince
Christian Prince is the Freshkills Park Art Program Intern for the summer of 2019. He is from Washington, DC and graduated from Vassar College.
What are you working on, and why do you think it’s interesting/important?
I’m assisting in the development of arts programs including installations in the park and working on materials for exhibitions at the Studio + Gallery. In addition to getting my hands dirty on the park grounds, I’m also actively growing the network of artists we work with.
I consider artistic work not to be supplementary or ancillary to Freshkills Park, but constitutive of the park itself. As an impressive feat of engineering and landscape architecture, Freshkills Park is also an unfolding work of art. I see the aesthetic determination of the park as dispersed among its material history, architects, natural processes, etc. and this complex interplay of forces only enriches the aesthetics of the park and its status as a “social sculpture,” to quote artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. So arts programs do not decorate the park, they are not separate as such. Instead, they become part of an overall artistic project that is the park itself.
What drew you to Freshkills Park?
Freshkills Park has strong symbolic and poetic resonances for me. It seems to me to psychically unearth our repressed awareness of our wastefulness, even as it physically buries and seals off waste. And there’s of course a redemption narrative at work as say, a phoenix rises from the ashes, so do the flora and fauna of the park grow more vibrantly because of the contrast with the waste underneath them. I’m also interested in the theoretical directions Freshkills follows. For example, we can think of the park as a heterotopia, meaning a space of exception that challenges every space around it, or an oblique, not-quite utopia that can exist precisely because it’s not a true utopia.
What is your favorite topic surrounding Freshkills Park and why?
I’m interested in the history of Freshkills Park. I want to learn more about the timeline of the original auspices under which the landfill was established, to the community resistance that got it closed down, to the artistic and legal work that allowed for the transformation. And Freshkills is a park where the process of its own history looms, as the historically and spatially bounded body of waste it sits atop is, like all history, ever-changing.
What is your favorite color?