Bensonhurst Gardens, Francesco Simeti
Bensonhurst Gardens depicts imaginary landscapes comprised of native plants with an unexpected array of flowers growing side by side. Simeti selected plants and flowers that are culturally meaningful to the three main ethnic groups currently found in Bensonhurst: Chinese, Italian, and Jewish. The 32 laminated glass panels were created through a process of collage.
One of these examples includes the rose and lily, which reference the Santa Rosalia Festival which is highly celebrated in the neighborhoods served by the station. The artist’s aim is not to make the individual panels immediately recognizable to a specific culture but to function as a framework, creating surreal compositions that belong to different times, cultures, and habitats. In addition, Simeti’s “light-box” compositions comment on society’s relationship to nature by showing the soil which nurtures the plants also collecting society’s cast-off detritus.
Reading through the descriptions of the new art installations along the D line, I’m pleased that the artists have acknowledged the complex cultural dynamics at play in these Brooklyn neighborhoods. I’m used to our cultures being reduced to our worst stereotypes—our monopolization of space and money in this neighborhood; how the Italians were here first, how the Chinese are taking over all the businesses; how the Italians are noisy, how the Chinese are loud. Having lived here for nearly twenty years, I’m certainly not exempt from this bigotry. I just hope that the art will compel my fellow straphangers to think twice about the people sitting next to them on the train. We’re all valuable contributors to this Brooklyn biome, not just unlawful overlords of its space.
Photo creds to Robbie Rosenfeld.
Excerpt found here.