Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
An artist has hung tossed-out evergreens from the ceiling of an exhibition space in Queens.
As January plods along, Christmas trees meet their grim fate.
City streets are veritable tannenbaum graveyards. The evergreens, so recently festooned with tinsel and wrapped in twinkle lights, are plunked down on curbs to await pickup by the sanitation department. There, they suffer further indignities. Dogs pee on them, scraps of garbage get stuck in their branches. On my block, someone stuck a half-eaten slice of pizza on the top of a discarded tree, like a greasy star, a bleak vignette.
In New York, the artist Michael Neff is trying to make the trees’ post-yuletide life a little less pathetic. He collected some used-up trees from around Brooklyn and strung them from the rafters of a Queens exhibition space for an installation titled Suspended Forest, on view at the Knockdown Center from January 9-30.
On one level, of course, the title is super literal: The trees are hung from the ceiling. But it also seems like a nod to the trees’ slow demise. Really, it was all downhill once their trunks were chopped. They had a good holiday run until the inevitable trip to the curb. Neff’s work raises them up again. It’s easy to imagine them back in tree lots, waiting to be selected and taken home.