Shannon Plumb: The Park
Inspired by Madison Square Park’s horticulture, diverse publics, and myriad uses, Shannon Plumb’s The Park captures the range of lived and visual experience in the park. Plumb’s twelve short films on four outdoor video screens track the comedy and dissonance that comes with living private lives in civic space. In a city of relentless demands, parks often double as offices, concert halls, living rooms, and stand-ins for backyards and front lawns. Plumb’s footage, originally shot on 16mm film, portrays the awkwardness of city life, from the constancy of mobile phone calls to the plight of the urban dog and dog walker. Often described as vaudevillian, Plumb’s style draws on the rich panoply of caricatures from silent-film era performances and early twentieth-century variety shows. We recognize her characters, from a groundskeeper battling nature and technology to a hapless production assistant. Deceptively simple in form and content, Plumb’s stories draw out the rich historical past of the City and confront the funny and frustrating clash of private lives and public space. Across her work responding to home life, public life, and the inner workings of the art world, Plumb intermingles her life as an artist, partner, and mother into often comedic and wry films that have a simultaneously low-tech and refined sensibility.