Siah Armajani's seminal public art piece, Bridge Over Tree, was officially unveiled at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Wednesday morning. The 91-foot-long bridge—which features a set of stairs in the middle placed over an evergreen tree—encourages swerves and unexpected encounters between strangers.
The installation, situated on the Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn in the park (between Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges), marks the first time Armajani's immersive piece has been on view in almost five decades. As a press release for the Public Art Fund notes, Bridge Over Tree was first envisioned as a temporary installation in 1970, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (where Armajani is based, though he was born in Iran).
"By siting the work in this international city and between two highly recognizable bridges, Public Art Fund has given Bridge Over Tree a new civic context," Armajani said in a statement. "It is important to me that my retrospective convey the breadth of my work, and public projects have always been at the core of my practice.”
The installation coincides with a major retrospective exhibition centered on Armajani's work, Siah Armajani: Follow This Line, which opened today at the Met Breuer. The extensive exhibit traces the artist's varied work, from the collages the created as a political activist in 1950s-era Tehran, to his examinations on art and architecture, and more.
“Bridge Over Tree is a very curious structure," said Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume in a statement. "As bridges go, it doesn’t make sense. There’s no functional efficiency in its elaborate climb over a small, lone tree; there’s no A to B that can’t otherwise be reached. In literalizing the form and stripping the customary function of a bridge, Armajani frees its potential as a poetic, expressive, and political idea. In an era obsessed with walls and fences, the bridge-building public work of this Iranian exile is perhaps even more urgent now than when first conceived in 1970."
Bridge Over Tree is on view until September 29th, 2019. It probably looks especially pretty covered in snow.