Artist Vanha Lam installs a temporary rock garden at MIRA as part of [working], a program producing artist projects in vacant retail space in San Francisco.
Created as a contemplative work on the transformation of space, Temporary Garden—Ongoing Maintenance by Vanha Lam is now open to the public, on view at 120 Folsom Street.
New York-based artist Vanha Lam has produced a large-scale installation with the arts program [working] in a ground floor retail space at MIRA, a new condominium building in San Francisco designed by Studio Gang. After studying the building site and history, Vanha Lam created “Temporary Garden—Ongoing Maintenance”, a 527 square foot rock garden as a peaceful respite amidst the commotion of the city and space for contemplating transformation.
The project is part of a broader effort by the [working] program to create a model for artists to lead the way in defining what the future of cities can be. The project was made possible through a partnership between [working] and Tishman Speyer, the developer behind the MIRA building, and The East Cut Community Benefit District that has organized an initiative to support the [working] program in The East Cut neighborhood. “We’re grateful that our partnership with [working] connected us with Vanha Lam and created the opportunity to share her work with the entire East Cut neighborhood,” says Carl Shannon, Senior Managing Director at Tishman Speyer.
The rock garden is constructed of 10,500 pounds of granite gravel as well as larger rocks and plant elements added by the artist. The project was designed so as to create the best viewing experience from outside the space. Paper screens cover the windows with framed views that offer passersby different perspectives of the work. The field of stone suggests construction debris of past infrastructure, including the now-dismantled Embarcadero Freeway that once stood on the site while expanding on the theme of transformation present across the artists body of work.
A meditative aspect of the project exists in a ritual practice of labor by the artist who visits the garden daily to maintain the grounds. The sounds of birds, water, and wind can be faintly heard. Light and shadow are essential agents in the garden, transforming the scene throughout the day. By night the garden is softly illuminated from spotlights that invite the public to look across the expanse of rock and the drama of finding the unexpected presence of a rock garden nestled within the city. Another view into the artists work exists at temporarygarden.org. The website documents the process of planning, building, and maintaining the rock garden.
About Vanha Lam
Vanha Lam is a New York-based artist. Her work explores the delicate balance and tension between order and chaos, design and chance, immutability and impermanence. She embraces elements of deformation and indeterminacy as a means of creation.
[working] is a program operated by Problem Library, a non-profit organization that develops practical models for approaching complex problems in society with a focus on art, education and cultural infrastructure.
By transforming vacant retail space, [working] creates a way for artists to realize large-scale projects in direct dialogue with the public. Through partnership with property owners, [working] is building a network of shared interest in the future of San Francisco as a center for art and culture. [working] is designed to illustrate a practical pathway to more efficient and adaptable cities—by creating environments hospitable to creativity and dynamism, it provides a framework for urban development to align with shifting cultural and personal values of place.
Partially inspired by Jane Jacobs’ notion that diversity of use in cities is critical to their vibrancy, the [working] program provides the groundwork for efficient use of both public and private infrastructure to create the cities and neighborhoods of the future.
The exhibition can be viewed at all times from the sidewalk/street—evenings and nights are recommended. Address: 120 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94105