When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux first unveiled their expansion of Central Park in 1873, most people agreed that they'd done a very good job. That opinion still holds today, though after more than a century to contemplate the 843-acre park, we might consider asking some questions: Like what if they'd been friends with J.D. Salinger, and had decided to build a small hideaway in a corner of the park for the famously reclusive author? And what if they brought on Lady Gaga as a design consultant?
This seems to be at least part of the idea behind Dionisio González's new installation at Galerie Richard on the Lower East Side. In a series called Thinking Central Park, the Sevilla-born photographer explores the "void" of the park, and how this open terrain might be different if it included spaces of refuge designed by Lady Gaga, J.D. Salinger, Robert Smithson, and Walter Benjamin.
How these four figures were chosen is a bit of a mystery—González says they're all "thinkers"—but it's clear that their imagined contributions to the park would differ widely. "Lady Gaga's Belvedere," for example, is an elegant home with a water slide that rises above the park's man-made lake, while "J.D. Salinger's Refuge" looks like one half of a Star Wars ship.
Salinger´s Refuge , 2017 (Galerie Richard)
These photos are shown alongside a second González series, called "Dialectic Landscape." The equally surreal project plumbs other specific visions for the skyline, as seen viewed from Central Park. These futuristic ideas include an east-west extension of the park, elevated high speed subways, and a winding pedestrian path.
According to a press release, "The artist considers Central Park and New York's landscape as a place indifferent to any formal ideals, a place for multiplicity, opportunism and unexpected creativity."
Unexpected indeed! [h/t Untapped Cities]
Dialectical Landscape - Thinking Central Park runs at the Galerie Richard at 121 Orchard Street in Manhattan from July 5th through August 27th.