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David Horvitz: Fifty-Five Honey Locust Trees

David Horvitz is an artist from California who is currently based in Brooklyn. He works in a variety of media, including photography, video, web-based work, publications, and watercolor. He writes about his project at the Clocktower:

"There are a group of Chinese Elms in eastern Colorado that I think frequently of. They grow at the former site of the Amache Internment Camp. My grandmother told me that when they arrived at Amache, the land was barren and empty, and that those interned in the camp had planted the trees that now stood. Knowing this, when you look at the trees you see the history of the place and the people who were once there. But the trees have no plaques. And if you don't know this, they are just trees in a landscape.

The day after Sandy hit New York City I rode my bike with some friends through downtown Manhattan to look at the aftermath of the storm. After biking over the Brooklyn Bridge we made a brief stop at Zuccotti Park. During the previous months I had been collecting the fallen seed pods from the fifty-five Honey Locust Trees that decorate the park. The storm had brought down most of the pods that were still hanging on the trees.

To germinate a Honey Locust seed you have to mimic the digestive process of an animal. This can be done using hot water or sandpaper. The tree has co-evolved with animals for the dispersal of its seeds. An animal eats the pod (which is also edible to humans). The outer layer of the seed is broken down in the animal's stomach and intestines. The seed is defecated on the ground. A tree grows.

I am thinking about the temporality of a tree. And the tree as something present, as able to bear witness (fifty-five Honey Locusts bearing witness). The slowness of their pace is not subject to the world of the instantaneous and the immediate that we live in. Their rhythms are seasonal, following the sun. These trees can live up to 150 years, longer than any of our lives, but relatively short compared to other trees. When an #OWS hashtag is no longer trending, they will continue to grow slowly in time.

At the Clocktower Gallery I have begun to germinate the seeds, and to take care of the little trees. At the end of the residency the trees will be taken to Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Connecticut, by a Metro North train from Grand Central. Each tree will be carried by one person. They will first be carried to Zuccotti Park to see their parents, and then to Grand Central (contact the Clocktower Gallery if you would like to carry a tree). In Connecticut they will continue to grow during Franklin Street Works' summer exhibition. In the future, when they are ready to be put into the ground, they will be donated to various organizations and individuals.

I imagine 150 seasons for these trees. 150 times their leaves turning a golden hue. And those who will witness this.

Fifty-five Honey Locusts bearing witness. And their seeds. The trees will be planted without plaques."

if you want to carry a tree RSVP to and indicate that you are in NY. Check the event page for details.

Honey Locust Tree Relocation

There are 55 Honey Locust trees growing in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, the central locale of the 2011 Occupy Walls Street protests. Artist David Horvitz collected the seeds from those trees in 2012 and is now germinating them during his artist residency at New York’s Clocktower Gallery. On Saturday, May 4, the artist and a group of volunteers will carry the little trees, one per person, to Stamford. The plants will continue to grow there through June 16, adding to Franklin Street Works’ exploration of sustainability, art, and activism in the current exhibition Strange Invitation. Horvitz sees one person carrying one plant as a poetic component of the project, adding, “I really like the image of someone going across the Atlantic in a boat, carrying a small apple branch or rose cutting, ready to plant it wherever they end up.”

David Horvitz & Ches Smith, 47 Bells

David Horvitz’s 47 Suspended Bells, melted from a single (damaged) French church bell dating from 1742, on view as part of the Brooklyn Museum's 2014 exhibition Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond, were used in a performance onsite by jazz and experimental percussionist Ches Smith in a composition for vibraphone, timpani and the 47 bells. Recorded December 29, 2014. Our thanks to the museum for sharing this recording.