Green Varnish

John Hill
16. June 2015
Photo: Courtesy of Nomad Studio

Brooklyn's Nomad Studio has installed Green Varnish in the courtyard of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM), the twelve-year-old building designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture.

Green Varnish is the first courtyard installation for CAM, which sits next to Tadao Ando's recently expanded Pulitzer Arts Foundation west of downtown St. Louis (the concrete wall of Ando's building is visible at left in the photo above). The installation is made up of a field of sedum that almost fills the 45-by-50-foot space; a perimeter walkway allows the piece to be seen from all sides. The artificiality of the landscape is expressed in two corners that are raised: one slightly near the building and one above head height as if lifting toward one of the longspan concrete walls that make up the Allied Works design.

According to Nomad Studio, the landscape studio co-founded by William Roberts and Laura Santín, "Green Varnish explores the necessity of hiding inconvenient realities with polite beauty. A green fabric elegantly covers all the inopportune facts." These "inconvenient realities" and "inopportunte facts" are our continued destruction of the landscape and its natural systems that we depend upon. With this in mind, is Green Varnish just an appealing bit of landscape to look at? Or is it a thin appliqué of green akin to green roofs applied to otherwise wasteful and destrictive buildings, an expression of people's unwillingness to change?

Whatever the case, Roberts and Santín conclude ironically: "We could continue ignoring the facts. We would like to invite you to apply a green varnish to your life-style, and move forward. We should continue ignoring inconvenient information, should we not?"

Green Varnish is on display at CAM until 13 September 2015. It was made possible by Nomad Studio with the help of Iria Perez and Associates, LIA Engineering, Collab - Portico, and Green Roof Blocks.

Photo: Courtesy of Nomad Studio
Photo: Courtesy of Nomad Studio
Photo: Courtesy of Nomad Studio

The installation compressed into a two-minute time-lapse:

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