Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Big Backyard: Safari 7 at Studio-X

Chihuahuas and chicken coops are just two of the topics broached at the new Studio-X Safari 7 Reading Room exhibit, which explores the spectrum of flora and fauna that call New York home.

Studio-X, an interdisciplinary arts space located at 180 Varick Street, is an ongoing project of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation with ambitions to give Columbia's thriving uptown scene a second home in downtown Manhattan.

The Safari 7 Reading Room exhibit, on free display at Studio-X from now until December 31, offers an in-depth ecological analysis of the neighborhoods surrounding the 7 train that cuts across New York's boroughs. Purple-hued printed panels detail each slice of the biosphere, from Flushing Meadows to Bryant Park, while a scale wooden model of the line and its environs occupies the main space of the studio. Attendees of the show can listen to a guided audio-tour and peruse a selection of books on the subject of urban design and ecology in New York City.

Studio-X program director Gavin Browning says that Safari 7 Reading Room is made to travel. While the exact time frame is still in the works, the exhibit will stop by Studio-X in Beijing in the near future. From there, the portable show will likely appear in Mumbai and Amman, two more Columbia Global Centers sites, as well as possibly Moscow and Sao Paolo. Browning notes that one of the best features of the show is that its content is so universal--the urban ecology of Beijing would be just as compelling a study as that of New York.

But for now, exploring New York is sufficiently fascinating. Safari 7's engaging study of the intricate urban landscape makes squirrels, maples, and weedy empty lots seem far from mundane.

Photo Credit: Ho Kyung Lee

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