What if? – Park/No Park 2000
In this project I explored the possibilities of “mock history” in architectural and urban history. As a friend of mine recently pointed out, the idea of “What if?” scenarios are a long-standing trope in comic book concepts. But in history they are generally considered forms of historical projection, and inherently irresponsible. The historians task is not to chart possible pasts, nor do we have any evidence that the study of the past can inform what might have been — the strange smashing together of historicism and determinism.
Nevertheless, after visiting an exhibition at the New York Historical Society on Central Park, I was curious what New York City might look like without Central Park. I thought this study could operate within a broader context of restitution politics. The current area of Central Park once contained Seneca Village, a small but racially diverse settlement. What if the land of Central Park was returned? Considering its value would building commence immediately? I also thought this question could operate within ethical questions about development. Why do the great works of the past appear so cruel to us? The latter question was explored in an exhibition concept for the Citadel in Central Park (the then current commissioner nixed it as too controversial) the latter concept appeared in Cabinet Magazine and the Venice Biennial.