Brooklyn Boro

Unique Brooklyn urban meadow, once a cemetery, now inspires art installation

Natural habitat was a refuge for artist in 2020

August 19, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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At first, this site was the Brooklyn Naval Hospital Cemetery, part of the once-bustling Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was active from 1831 to 1910 and was the burial site for more than 2,000 people, most of them officers and enlisted men of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

In 2016, it became the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s Naval Cemetery Landscape, a natural habitat and place for remembrance and contemplation. It is next to the Greenway itself, a hiking and biking path along the Brooklyn waterfront, at Williamsburg Street.

Now, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) has announced the upcoming art installation and exhibition, “Solitude: In A Landscape” to be shown at the Landscape. 

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The opening event for the installation will take place on Thursday, Aug. 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and will feature a screening of the film “Solitude: In A Landscape” to commemorate exactly one year since it was shot in the same location. The film will be projected onto the boardwalk and scored live by musician Ben Brown of Hand and Temple.

The 54-minute video piece by Najee Wilson is a celebration of bucolic beauty within an urban oasis, yearning for comfort and the nostalgic pleasures of enjoying nature, made in reaction to the chaos of 2020.

A trombonist performs at the opening of the Naval Cemetery Landscape in 2016. Eagle file photo by Andy Katz

During the screening, visitors are encouraged to walk around the elevated meandering boardwalk and view the installation. Stills from the film have been printed on silk and ripstop nylon and displayed on shepherd’s hooks to catch the breeze, appearing to float over the meadow. Wind chimes will provide an additional chorus of sound coming from the outer edges of the landscape.

In “Solitude: In a Landscape” the viewer will see both the artist inhabiting and exploring the space, and also reframing it both in terms of personal point of view and also the passage of time, both unique factors of the space that are not obvious to visitors on their initial visits.

“During the uproar of last year, as we safeguarded ourselves from so much, our bodies yearned for places that allowed us to feel safe,  while fostering a deeper connection to nature,” Wilson said about the installation. “This piece is about nostalgia and feelings of being home, about how to connect with our personal history, but in a new, ever changing world. 

“The NCL was a refuge for me in 2020 and now I want to share that experience with others,” he said.


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