Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Outer Seed Shaodow': A Community Garden As Translation Of The Immigrant Experience In New York City

Artist Juanli Carrión

I just had the great pleasure to meet artist Juanli Carrión, who has recently moved to Carroll Gardens. I sat together with him last week in his studio to speak about Outer Seed Shadow, his most recent project.
“It will be a place where this great variety of plants from all over the world, from all sorts of geographies, landscapes, climates, are going to be growing in such close proximity to each other, as a translation of the immigrant experience in New York City”
Juanli Carrion
New York City has always been defined by its long history of international immigration, and its multiculturalism has made the City a symbol of the American Melting Pot.  However, the immigration experience is ever changing and unique.  To give a voice to today's immigrant, artist Juanli Carrión has created a public art project entitled Outer Seed Shadow.

Over the past few months, Carrión has held interviews with immigrants living across Manhattan and has recorded the deeply personal stories of their arrival, their cultural adaptation and their immigrant experience.  Carrión has asked each interviewee to select a plant that best represents themselves and their country of origin.

Ultimately, all the plants will become part of a 2,000 square foot interactive community garden in the shape of Manhattan that will be installed at Duarte Square in Soho in May 2014.  During a six-month period, a series of free workshops, lectures, and guided visits will be given to the public.
The garden and all its plants is a metaphor of this city's diverse immigrant community. 

 The challenge of course, will be to respect the unique needs of each plant.  According to Carrión, himself a transplant from Yecla, Spain, "the project is a study of social interaction and the politics of immigration, as illustrated by plants and their survival in the meteorological condition of New York City, an experiment that has a subjacent study about power. Unlike plants, which can only endure a certain range of environmental conditions, human beings are apparently more adaptable to differences of place as rational animals, but the truth may be that in the end humans are likewise unable to overcome the limits of their own nature—of their own sociopolitical environment."

The idea came to Carrión while he was going through the immigration process himself.  He has been in the United States since 2007, and for the last two years, has lived in Carroll Gardens.

Outer Seed Shadow will be officially presented and launched tomorrow, Thursday, October 24th 2013 from 6PM to 9PM at The Horticultural Society of New York ,148 West 37th Street, 13th Floor, New York, NY. (Please RSVP to

In addition, a Kickstarter campaign for the project has been launched to be able to offer more public programming and make the garden 100% handicapped accessible, because "everyone in Manhattan, New York City, the United States, and the world is represented in this garden."

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