grass and artificial turf
24"W x 24"D x 3"H
July 2022 - present
Ongoing public art installation at the Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY
Monoculture is a land art installation that playfully satirizes the American lawn as a cultural phenomenon and a banal yet absurd symbol of late Capitalism. The installation consists of an 8 x 8 grid of 3ft x 3ft square tiles alternating between grass and artificial turf. The resulting checkerboard highlights the regional grass (with its accompanying weeds, clovers, plantains, etc.) alongside its simulacrum of unchanging plastic turf. Over time, the living grass in the installation grows above the turf, highlighting the contrast between these two materials.
This project interrogates lawns as icons of the American landscape. Originally an agricultural form transplanted from 17th century France and England, lawns were embraced by early American landscape architects and copied across the US in wealthy neighborhoods, gold courses, and post-WWII middle-class housing developments. While lawns represent suburban upward mobility (alongside the white picket fence), they also engage ideas of beauty, resource extraction, and conformity.
The checkerboard pattern in this installation cracks open the lawn as a construct, a product of aspirational rituals – mowing, fertilizing, weeding, edging – that try to stave off chaos. In Monoculture, the untamed regional grasses converse with their plastic and compliant counterpart, highlighting the complexity of idealized aesthetics. For, if we view the lawn as an aspirational simulation of perfection, the turf beside it becomes a drought-tolerant but fossil-fueled mirror image, a band aid for a warming planet made of petroleum by-products.