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Bio-Diversity art (Jeni Rinner)

November 20, 2009
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Thought you guys would appreciate this art piece from the New York Times’ “Abstract City” column called “Bio-Diversity“.  An interesting piece of appreciating the diversity of the humble fallen leaves cluttering our sidewalks these days. Also calls attention to interesting patterns of anthropomorphism, I think.  The artist, Christoph Neimann, makes art pieces to reflect his experience of life in New York City.  If you look to the right of the leaves, you’ll see his other columns, all of which take on a reflective, almost journalistic tone.  They also use a variety of interesting mixed media.  He has used woven paper to reflect on the Berlin Wall, pins and burlap on his sense of self-efficacy, coffee on napkins to discuss a coffee addiction, and even his own bathroom tile home improvement project. What do you think his choice of media says about his subjects?

Christoph Neimann, Bio-DiversityChristoph Neimann, "Bio-Diversity"

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One Comment leave one →
  1. voldfall2009 permalink
    November 29, 2009 10:06 pm

    Jeni! I’ve also enjoyed “Abstract City” over the past few years! Neiman challenges me to understand what it really means to belong to a place; I love how his art shows the place of New York through new angles and forms. Yet for all its whimsy, “Bio-Diversity” doesn’t further inquiry into place and belonging for me like Neiman’s past projects. “Bio-Diversity” appears as a mock-up of an herbarium (white background, cursive writing) and plays with the scientific labeling of leaf-art. But the leaves themselves are less formally intriguing than “Coffee” and less poignant than “I LEGO NY” (I loved “LEGO” for its nostalgia: a Berlin-bound dad recreating his favorite city in miniature). It seems that “Bio-Diversity” is more about the cool shapes Neiman can cut leaves into than a commentary on the diversity of city trees or the feeling of an urban autumn. I find its less reflective of “belonging” than I anticipated. Maybe its less environmentalist and more incidental? I like the column’s construction-paper precision and clever word play with the names of leaves (Boxwood or briefs, walnut and walbolt). I also like the visual contrast between angular cuts and fluid, raised veins. Plus, the leaves’ variegated colors and delicate lacy edges do make a good gorgonzola topping and a California coastline. I suppose I’m less moved by the pop cultural references (“Push Pine,” “Faux Fur”) cut out of maple leaves that don’t correspond with the “mapleness” of the leaf or the place in the city where Neiman found it. In these maple leaf forms, the kind of leaf isn’t really part of the play; the leaf just needs to be a leaf. This choice doesn’t deepen Neiman’s place-based interpretations of New York so much as entertain nytimes.com readers with novel shapes. His audience might not recognize or care about all of the city’s different kinds of leaves, but I’m intrigued! I’d like to know more about how autumn leaves make New Yorkers feel and act. This texture doesn’t really come through in this column. What do you think?

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