A long granite table top filled with roses now welcomes visitors as they enter the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway. You might be tempted to think that this spectacular new flower arrangement is part of a campaign to beautify the lobby area, but there’s more to it than initially meets the eye. It’s a work of art called The Moving Garden by New York-based artist, Lee Mingwei.
Mingwei invites you to take a flower as you leave the museum provided that you agree to his terms: on the way to wherever you are going next, you will make a detour and give the flower to a stranger.
The rose-filled tabletop helps to facilitate the actual work of art: the giving of a gift that takes place beyond the walls of the museum. Consistent with his artistic practice, you become a participant in Mingwei’s art, which relies on trust, generosity and human interaction.
When only a few roses remain in the table top and the arrangement might look a little thin and straggly, that this means that the flowers are out on the move in the streets of New York working their magic. Initially our plan was to use orchids, but since orchid farms in the metropolitan area felt the effects of Hurricane Irene, you’ll find roses at the table while we monitor the situation.
Eugenie Tsai joined the Brooklyn Museum in the fall of 2007 as John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art. With Patrick Amsellem, she organized 21: Selections of Contemporary Art from the Brooklyn Museum, a long-term installation that opened on September 19, 2008. Previously she was Director of Curatorial Affairs at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens, New York. Prior to Joining P. S. 1 in 2005, she was an independent curator with projects for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Berkeley Museum; and the Princeton University Art Museum. She held several positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art prior to becoming Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs. Among the exhibitions and installations she has organized are the mid-career survey Threshold: Byron Kim, 1990-2004; Robert Smithson, which received the International Association of Art Critics’ first place award for the best monographic exhibition of 2005; and for Princeton University, Shuffling the Deck: The Collection Reconsidered. Dr. Tsai received a B. A. from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a Ph. D. from Columbia University.