Jade Doskow is the Photographer-in-Residence of Freshkills Park, Staten Island, New York City.
Freshkills Alliance Artist Page: https://freshkillspark.org/os-art/jadedoskow
Doskow’s Freshkills work in the New York Times:
How the World’s Largest Garbage Dump Turned into a Green Oasis
Finding Utopia in ‘Apocalyptic Hudson River School Painting’: Jade Doskow’s Long-Term Documentation of Freshkills
In operation from 1948-2001, Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island became the largest household garbage dump globally, receiving 150 million tons of New York Cityʼs solid waste during that time. Staten Islanders fought to have the site closed for years, tired of living with the noxious odors and the notoriety the site created for their borough. Agreements between the State and City were made in the 1990ʼs to close Fresh Kills for once and for all and the last barge of garbage was accepted on March 22, 2001. The only time it was reopened was to accept materials from the World Trade Center tragedy in Manhattan in 2001, rendering a portion of the site historically significant into the future. It was in the early 2000ʼs that the conceptualization of landfill to wilderness park entered the civic conversation, and thus began a radical transformation. Today, it is the largest landfill-to-park transformation on the planet.
Jade Doskowʼs large-scale photographs of the iconic New York landfill-turned-park make clear itsʼ paradoxical, ethereal beauty, while creating an important archive of a major chapter within the story of New York Cityʼs infrastructure. Influenced by the Westward expansion photographs of Carleton Watkins, 1970ʼs land artists such as Agnes Denes, the writings of Cal Flyn, Helen MacDonald, Karl Ove Knausgård, and Haruki Murakami, the photographs in Doskowʼs collection reflect the scope of the natural and unnatural systems at play in this unique, layered landscape. In The New Wilderness, we see a forest, inverted within captured rainwater inside a long-out-of-use dumpster, while within the structure of the dumpster itself a mini-ecosystem has taken root. In East Mound a fox has built its den within the curved, small hillock constructed to envelope a methane extraction well and peers curiously at the photographer under her dark cloth. The topography of the site--undulating and sculpted by Sanitation engineers and through Doskowʼs lens--offers its complexity through her careful and probing large-format work, playing with scale and form, abstraction and figuration.
During this time of climate catastrophe, Freshkills Park offers a compelling (albeit complicated and imperfect), ultimately optimistic view of how visionary urban planners can take a landscape that has been completely destroyed and resurrect it, literally transforming the garbage of the U.S.ʼs most populous city and creating grasslands replete with rare species of flora and fauna, rolling hills dotted with flowers, and waterways once again attracting marine life. Doskowʼs work ask us as such: if 2,200 acres of New York Cityʼs household waste can be transformed into glorious meadowlands and woodlands, what else is possible?