New York artist Agnes Denes' new work will combine the best of Egyptian architecture and public art.

New York artist Agnes Denes is fond of pyramids. She's used them in sculptures to frame water issues, namely in a 2005 piece, Pyramids of Conscience, in which she bottled up different substances in pyramids. One contained crystal-clear water; another held crude oil; still another was filled with polluted water from the Rio Grande. A fourth pyramid featured a mirrored surface: a call to action for the viewer.

Agnes Denes, Pyramids of Conscience, 2005 (Agnes Denes)

Her latest work, The Living Pyramid, calls viewers in more gracefully—as participants. This summer, Denes is building a large earth pyramid in Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens and inviting the public to plant wildflowers and grasses all over its stepped surface. Denes will begin constructing the 9,000-cubic-foot pyramid in April; then, in May, to coincide with the seasonal opening of Socrates Sculpture Park as well as the Frieze New York art fair, she will invite volunteers to help her plant stuff on the pyramid.

Seems like a great project for Socrates Sculpture Park and Long Island City. Why, though, don't more urban gardens make use of pyramid structures? They would appear to offer clear benefits over boring, safe, two-dimensional, rectangular garden plots.

Take the pyramid by Denes: At 30 feet on each face, it boasts a solid 2,900 square feet of surface area. A plain-old square plot of the same dimensions (30 by 30 feet) provides just 900 square feet of surface area. If there's some reason that community gardeners everywhere aren't using pyramids to increase surface area to grow their flowering plants, I'd love to know what it is.

Personally, I'd much rather plant my herbs, peppers, lettuces, and flowers on a pyramid—public or private. Landscaping like an Egyptian is definitely cooler than gardening, but it also seems a lot more efficient.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    Coronavirus Reveals Transit’s True Mission

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  4. Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus Class Divide in Cities

    Places like New York, Miami and Las Vegas have a higher share of the workforce in jobs with close proximity to others, putting them at greater Covid-19 risk.

  5. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

×