About the Exhibition
Today, it is hard to grasp how radical this work by Siah Armajani (American, b. 1939, Teheran, Iran) was when first conceived nearly 50 years ago. Interactivity and immersive experiences have since become cultural buzzwords and artistic strategies. Architectural form and sculptural practice now often share a common language. However, when originally shown in a Minneapolis public park in 1970 as part of a temporary sculpture exhibition, Bridge Over Tree was barely recognizable as a work of art. For the first time, this seminal installation has been recreated by the artist for presentation by Public Art Fund.
The basic construction and materials of Armajani’s bridge are straightforward. Timber trusses and decking covered by a shingle roof evoke the vernacular of early American bridge design. That sense of familiarity is challenged by its form, which rises and falls at a sharp angle in the center to accommodate a single evergreen tree. Released from the customary function of a bridge to efficiently link two points, this structure follows a different logic. As public sculptures go, it is large; as a bridge in New York City, it may be among the most intimate. Yet its angular forms still echo those of its massive, iconic neighbors, as well as the stepped and peaked rooflines of the Manhattan skyline. Bridge Over Tree invites us to experience the idea of a bridge in a new way. In a world of walls and barriers, what does it mean to create points of connection, to establish relationships among different things, to invite interaction, and to build a bridge between the world and the poetic imagination?
Siah Armajani: Bridge Over Tree is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.