The Madison Square Park Conservancy begins its 2009 season of Mad. Sq. Art with Shannon Plumb’s The Park, to be shown daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on four outdoor video screens on the grounds of the Shake Shack.
New York’s parks are among our most treasured public spaces. In a city of “cozy” homes and relentless demands, they double as offices, concert halls, and living rooms and very often stand in for the backyards, front lawns, and gardens most of us don’t have.
In The Park, Shannon Plumb captures the diversity of Madison Square Park itself—its flora and fauna, its people, and its myriad uses. Her twelve short films, from footage originally shot on 16mm, track the comedy and, at times, tragedy that comes with living our private lives out-of-doors. From the inescapable cell phone calls of others to the plight of the urban dog, and its walker, from a groundskeeper battling both nature and technology to a hapless production assistant of a nearby movie set, we recognize all of Plumb’s characters. Screened within the context that they were first observed, Plumb’s stories provide a playful yet piercing mirror onto ourselves, our actions, and our city.
Often described as vaudevillian, Plumb’s style draws on the rich panoply of caricatures from silent-film era performance and early twentieth-century variety shows. Madison Square Park is nearby the area that was once home to many of New York’s most renowned theaters, giving her comedic narratives extra resonance. Deceptively simple in form and content, Plumb’s character studies draw out the rich historical past of the city and delight in the funny and frustrating clash of private lives and public space.
About the Artist
Shannon Plumb was born in Schenectady, New York, and lives and works in Brooklyn. She is represented in New York by Sara Meltzer Gallery and has had solo exhibitions at Collette in Paris; 20:21 Galerie Edition Kunsthandel in Essen, Germany; City Gallery of Schwaz, Tyrol, Austria; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut; and the Art Association at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Her work has been included in group shows, including Human Game, curated by Francesco Bonami, Maria Luisa Frisa, and Stefano Tonchi; Torino Triennial, curated by Francesco Bonami and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Torino, Italy; i-Dentity, at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, UK; and Greater New York 2005, PS1/MoMA in Long Island City. Her films have been screened at national and international film festivals including If Looks Could Kill: Fashion in Film Festival 2008; 61 Festival Internazionale del Film, Locarno, Switzerland; Forum Expanded: Berlin Film Festival 2007; the 2006 London Film Festival; Scanners: 2006 New York Video Festival; the Lyon Film Festival, France; Anthology Film Archives and many others.