A discussion of urbanism and Staten Island, cartography, and monumental sculpture’s place in modern society.
The Great Richmond is collaboration between the cartographer Neil Greenberg and the sculptor Will Corwin. The two were introduced by Monica Valenzuela, the Director of Development and Community Programming at Staten Island Arts, after both independently proposed projects focusing on the future of the borough via abstract methodology—Greenberg through imaginary maps and Corwin via interactive sculpture. The simplest means of collaborating turned out to be Greenberg visiting New York for several weeks at a time and camping out on Corwin’s couch. They made field trips to the island, wandered its streets and researched its history at the archives in the basement at Snug Harbor. Two years later, the result is a game-based and crowd-sourced sculpture incorporating many ideas from previous projects. For Greenberg it references imaginary urban manifestations and interventions such as Fake Omaha and Freshwater Metro Transit, and for Corwin it is another iteration of pseudo-randomly generated sculpture such as the Clocktower Chess Match.
The Great Richmond is an interactive project that will draw its momentum from the 65,000 or so tourists and Staten Islanders who wander into the Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and are willing to interact with the piece. The rules are simple: choose two game tokens from the storage shelves and place them on any of the four color-coded tables. There are eight varieties of token, cast-plaster sculptures approximately a cubic foot in size, representing different facets of the island: infrastructure, history and culture, architectural fabric (retail and residential, government institutions, contemporary culture, and connectivity with the rest of the boroughs), and agrarian aspirations. The four tables represent four visions for the island—a return to an agrarian utopia, secession, and increased suburban or urban fabric. The possible outcomes of visitors’ choices are concretized in Greenberg’s cycle of four fantasy maps of the island, while Corwin’s contribution lies in the tokens and shelving matrix. [ Read More ]