Bringing Back NYC's Extinct Plants

Without modern life, these plants might not have gone extinct from New York City. But through modern technology, this artist is able to bring them back. 🌱

Systems that help define contemporary life into art

These plant species have gone extinct in New York City. Artist Michael Wang is now bringing them back. The Extinct in New York exhibition reveals the effects of urbanization on the natural world. Displayed in 4 greenhouses at the LMCC Arts Center on Governors Island — the plants all require intensive care. These four greenhouses contain a selection of plant, lichen and algae species historically documented in the natural environments of New York City, but which no longer grow wild in any of the city’s five boroughs.

“I think that a big part of the project is, kind of, calling attention to the kind of direct relationship between the certain mode of human living and that impact on other species. It is a kind of catalog of loss on some level, but to, kind of, balance that story of loss with the, sort of, potential for the reemergence of some of these species. I think as an artist, I'm very interested in, kind of, working directly within systems that, kind, of define contemporary life. And I think that, kind of, questions of biology, of ecology, that these are hugely important questions and systems that we're meshed within and, kind of, really define the limits of what our lives are like today,” Artist Michael Wang tells Brut.

Drawing from traditions of Conceptualism and Land Art, Wang’s practice creates circuit-like frameworks that insert themselves into, and subtly alter, global economic and ecological systems. The stock market value of rival corporations, the bedrock upon which major cities are built, the salvaged steel of the Twin Towers and the carbon footprint of the international art trade have all been used by Wang as material for changeable artworks that extend beyond the standard duration of an exhibition. After the exhibition the plants will be cared for in managed gardens around New York.