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A meditation on rootedness in the relentlessly changing city

Commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Nomadic Grove is a meditation on rootedness in the relentlessly changing city. To sit, relaxed, looking up at a tree framing the sky is a simple and profound human experience, but one in surprisingly short supply in modern cities. Perhaps it is because trees resist the city’s constant motion, the city’s ruthlessness–they are specific in a world of impatient cosmopolitanism.

Nomadic Grove is an experimental landscape that straddles the poles of stability and movement. The Grove consists of an archipelago of gem-like islands suspended low on wheels, floating just above the surface of Jessie Square as if it were the plane of a calm lake. Fragments of this floating terrain are solidly but temporarily anchored in one of several compositions that change from week to week. In the abstracted islands, large specimen trees are rooted, defining the center of a small world. The trees–oak and olive–are adapted to the climates of both Israel and the Bay Area, representing the Mediterranean biome that is shared between the two regions.

The gem islands, singly and in relationship with one another, provide a means for visitors to inhabit a familiar urban space in novel ways, creating amphitheaters, seating, lounging decks, informal classrooms, or social spaces, depending on the day and the configuration.

Playing on themes of migration, rootedness, local adaptation, and miniature landscape, Nomadic Grove is an inhabitable sketch of the ever-evolving relationship between human and non-human nature.

Date: 2012
Client: Contemporary Jewish Museum
Location: Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA