Recap: ‘What’s Your 12×12’ Installation at First Park

Posted on: August 16th, 2013 at 10:11 am by

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Ivy Haldeman installation at the 12×12 project. Photo: Lori Greenberg.

We New Yorkers are used to cramming (er, living) in smaller spaces than most people in the rest of the country. Maybe that’s not so bad. There is much discussion these days about the benefits of owning less stuff and inhabiting micro apartments. How much space do we really need, and how can we get ourselves out of the mindset of the “more is more” mentality?

“What’s Your 12×12,” a one room traveling structure currently installed inside First Park, hopes to make all of us, even space-deprived New Yorkers, stop and think twice about the spaces we live in.

The project was inspired by the book, Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin, Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream, by WPI Senior Fellow William Powers.

Each week the room is turned over to a different artist who is charged with transforming the structure into an interactive eco-art installation. Participants and visitors can engage with the question “What’s your 12×12?” in order to spark new thinking around what smart consumption means for each person.

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Photo: Lori Greenberg

When we visited recently, artist Ivy Halderman had transformed the house into a calm and relaxed environment, tricked out with hammocks, fresh grass, and a “thunder corner” (with sounds of rain and thunder).

Featured artists selected by Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) and World Policy Institute (WPI) will be in residence over the course of four weeks:

August 6 -11, 2013: Presented by WPI, NYC-based artist Ivy Haldeman will use the 12 x 12 as a space to reflect on the aesthetics of darkness as an indirect means of living sustainably. In opposition to a mentality of 24/7 activity, Ivy will make the 12 x 12 into a place for napping and rest.

August 13 – 18, 2013: Presented by FABnyc, Mario Chamorro, Catalina Parra, and Pablo Gnecco of The Happiness Lab will create social experiments through art within the 12×12 space in order to explore and visualize how people use their own happiness to develop sustainable communities.

August 20 – 25, 2013: Presented by WPI, musician Jonathan Koh will compose music in the 12×12 space, using a combination of classical techniques and synthesizers. His work will contemplate how music can help the listener engage with space and reflect on smart consumption in a small space.

August 27 – September 1, 2013: Presented by FABnyc, NYC-based performance artist Shawn Shafner invites visitors to create their own square patch of latch hook rug, 12 rows across and 12 columns up and down. The last day of the project, the squares will be sewn together, creating a vibrant patchwork and an expression of community collaboration.

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Setting up the Happiness Lab installation. Photo: Lori Greenberg.

The 12×12 Project is presented by the WPI, FABnyc, NYC Parks, New York City Artists and First Street Green, cultural curators of First Park.

It is open to the public at First Park (entrance on 2nd Avenue and Houston Street). Hours are Tuesdays through Sundays, 12pm – 7pm, until September 1. For questions about the “12×12 Project,” check out the website.

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