Emily Eliza Scott’s article will focus on a series of radical garden proposals by Patricia Johanson from 1969, which envisioned public parks throughout New York City intended to highlight increasingly degraded environmental conditions. In their emphasis on bringing wasted urban sites back into biological and social circulation, her (never-built) gardens represent a vivid counter-model to contemporaneous earthworks and “civic” plazas, and a significant if little-known precursor to subsequent critical spatial practices by artists. Scott’s article will contextualize Johanson’s practice in relation to the emergent ecological consciousness and postwar urbanism that were its partial subject and in which it aimed to concretely intervene. It will examine the project’s formulation of the artist as amateur ecologist, considering the shift from objects toward systems on the part of many vanguard artists during this period. Furthermore, it will explore the ways in which Johanson’s ambitious, multidisciplinary piece complicates art historical accounts of land and environmental art.
Emily Eliza Scott is a scholar and artist interested in cultural practices that illuminate and interrogate pressing issues, especially with regard to the environment and geopolitics. Her recent writings have appeared in Third Text, Art Journal, Cultural Geographies, and the exhibition catalogue for Ends of the Earth: Art in the Land to 1974 (MOCA). She is currently co-editing a volume on contemporary art and land use politics (University of California Press, forthcoming 2014) and collaborating with an international team of artists and theorists on a visual research project about natural resources, World of Matter. In 2013, she will begin a multi-year postdoctoral position in the architecture department at the ETH Zürich, where her research will focus on artist-generated research platforms in connection with notions of radical pedagogy, cross-disciplinary inquiry, and knowledge commons. She holds a PhD in (post-1945) art history from UCLA and is co-founder of the Los Angeles Urban Rangers (2004–present), a group that develops guided hikes, campfire talks, field kits, and other interpretive tools to spark creative explorations of everyday habitats. Before all this, she was a park ranger in Utah and Alaska.