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Some weeks ago in Chicago, for the fourth year, Art On Track took place: a huge mobile gallery on board of a CTA train, that circled in loop for five hours on september 17th to give the visitors a unique experience. Different artist customized each of the carriages, turning an everyday experience into something unusual: not just a boring trip on the way home, but a party of colors and original performances in the same place where we used to see the same grey routine. Every coach was a sort of pavilion where artists could show their works and ideas: someone turned the train into a cosy home, some others made up a fashion show and somebody else built a real garden, almost a jungle, in the small space of the carriage. This specific project, realized by noisivelvet is named  Mobile Garden. Covering the floor and all the seats with a carpet of green grass, the artists created a nice garden with indigenous plants and flowers spread in every corner of the track and hanging from the top.

This project was a sort of preview of the original one noisivelvet is currently trying to realize:
an open-air art installation of a native plant garden pulled behind the L line of Chicago subway for one month. Once tasted this appetizer, we cannot wait to see the big one.

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Can Felipa Civic Centre, in the very heart of Poblenou in Barcelona, the old factory workers’ district, nowadays renewed and transformed into an art and culture centre, is hosting till 19 of june an interesting exhibition of young artists titled Paradis Perdut, alg(unes) mirades al voltant del jardì. The works exposed are built around the theme of the garden and the contemporary loss of “paradise” in our city, where a green space is often like a hidden treasure (expecially in Barcelona); all the works together contribute to write a redemption song calling for the lost paradise. What is shown is a series of thoughts about the idea of garden and about its contemporary condition.

We would like to focus especially over two particular projects of the exhibition. The first one is “Degradado, Jardin Ambulante” by Cecilia Martin, an installation made from five bins painted in a degrading color scale from black to white; in each bin stands a cypress tree, growing in height toghether with the bin growing in brightness, as a symbol of the meeting between industry and nature. It is literally a moving garden through Poblenou’s district, trying to start  a dialogue about the green areas and the intense urban renewal of an industrial space, mirror of the change of an economic paradigm.

The route of the garden consists of eight stops, all of them located in strategic places where, years ago, there were factories or workers’ housing.

Following the garden we can walk the path of the transformation of the spaces in the context of a contemporary-faced city, where the industrial past is only a (romantic?) memory, with a critical eye in front of the lackness of green.

Another work by the same artist, Natura Viva, reminds us the Mobile Garden of Tatfoo Tan, which we already described in this post.

Images taken from jardinambulante.blogspot.com

The second project we would like to talk about is Julie Houle‘s Patch; based on the concept of “object trouvet”, manipulated and repaired. In  a series of postcards we can find maps of the streets of Poblenou with a mark in every place where the artist stopped to repair parts of “broken” natural elements, such as trees, leaves or stones, with different materials. Examples of this patchworks are shown in the exhibitions inside glass boxes. Putting one beside the other natural and man-made materials, the artist wants to give a ludic and ironic sense to her work, revealing at the same time the uniqueness of nature. The apparently useless repair tries to make us indulge in a reflection about our environment, underlining with these little interventions the need to focus on bigger topics.

This work reminds us the one of Nina Katchadourian for “Platform 21”, who carefully repaired dozens of spiderwebs. We believe that the “repairing nature” is more than a work of art and helps us facing realities we have always ignored or considered as independent and self-sufficient, but that nowadays really need all of our attention.

Images taken from juliehoule.com

In october 2009, for the festival Art in Odd Places in the city of New York, the artist Tattfo Tan created the work Mobile Garden.

The project involved groups of citizens, students and artists who walked down the city’s streets bringing wheeled objects – from baby buggies and shopping carts to old suitcases, from chairs to skateboards. What you could see above these objects were no babies, food or clothes, but every kind of plants and flowers. The intention of the artist was to place all little mobile gardens in particular spaces, pointed out previously with some signs (which said “Plant here!”).

The perfect locations for plants were pieces of land unused and neglected or out of sight corners. All the pointed spaces were collected in a map, distributed to people in the neighborhood.

The use of particular objects, usually found abandoned or lying along the streets (shopping cart, baby buggies) powers up the performance, involving a level of provocation and reevaluating classic symbols of poverty and urban decay.

By placing the plants in abandoned spaces, the artist wants to invite people to reflect upon unexplored possibilities of urban land use, particularly about the lack of parks and green public spaces.
The performance is going to be repeated in june, 5th 2010, in Staten Island (NY), for a Mobile Garden Expo, but in the meanwhile it inspired some other similar works: the artist Shannon Young, on february 2010, presented a project very close to mobile garden in the Umami, Food&Art Festival in New York city.

Talking about Mobile Garden, we’re not saying anything particularly innovative: the japanese architect Gen Yamamoto (NL Architects), during the ExperimentaDesign Amsterdam in 2008, conceived a sort of “forest” made by a hundred of shopping carts scattered around the city, in which he planted trees and plants. This way, he wanted people to interact with his installation and “adopt” a tree, to make the city greener.
Other examples could be find in the Green Island workshop, developed every year in Milan in correspondence with the famous Design Expo Salone del Mobile. In the 2009 edition the work Bike Cart and Portable Garden was presented, which totally reflected the Mobile Garden of Tattfo Tan, moving little gardens above bikes an mobile containers.
More than this, in 1994, Lois & Franziska Weinberger, a couple of austrian artists, created Portable Garden putting plants and flowers inside little bags or different containers. The past is a good teacher.

All images taken from http://www.tattfoo.com/projects.html