It’s November, and while most of New York City seems to be gearing up for the next big festival of Thanksgiving, a corner of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood doesn’t seem to be done with October’s Halloween celebrations just yet. While the handsome, three-story, red-brick building on the corner of Kane Street and Strong Place is noteworthy by itself, it is its black, iron fence that is particularly interesting, which has carved pumpkins, each having a specific expression of its own, stuck on almost all of its rusty spikes.
The display, called “Impalements,” is the brainchild of artist Jane Greengold, who has been making art of various kinds for over 40 years. While Greengold has worked in a number of mediums including abstract art and sculpture, she professes to have a certain affinity toward site-specific public art projects, where she uses her art to illuminate some aspect of the site. With regard to “Impalements,” it was the long fence with its high, pointy stakes that inspired her to think of impaling heads””albeit pumpkin heads””on them.
What began as a Halloween project in 1998 has gone on to become a time-honored tradition in the Cobble Hill neighborhood, with Greengold having returned to the location almost every year since then to do this installation. About a hundred small pumpkins, taller than they are round, are used for this exercise. Because of the size of the pumpkins, and also because their tops need to be intact, Greengold says the challenging part of the project is “not so much carving the pumpkins, but actually scooping out the insides through the features of the face.”
Once impaled, however, the pumpkins remain on the fence for the next couple of weeks; with their carved facial features becoming all the more gruesome and gnarly as the fruits rot and ultimately turn into mush. “We leave them up till they get, really, too horrible or mushy. My absolute limit is Christmas day,” Greengold says. “But, they are more interesting as they begin to get gnarly.” She was right””these photographs were taken only ten days after Halloween, and already, the effects of decay have made the impaled pumpkin faces seem all the more in pain.
In the past years, it was just Greengold and a few of her friends and family who carved and impaled the 100 or more pumpkins on the fence, which would then become a congregation point for the neighborhood’s trick-or-treaters, both young and old. This year, she invited members of the public to join in the project, and bring their own carved pumpkins to be stuck on the fence. Despite the troubles brought along by Hurricane Sandy this year, Halloween saw people coming out in droves to both check out and join in the project as well.
Greengold however hopes to have better weather conditions for her “Impalements” next year, which, she hopes, will encourage more people to become a part of this project. Her success with this work has also got Greengold thinking about other locations in the city where she can host such site-specific installations and also get the public involved in the same. But until she does that, New Yorkers can content themselves with these aggrieved pumpkin faces on Cobble Hill. Head down to Brooklyn and check out her work now, before it turns into an unrecognizable mush!
Visit Jane Greengold’s website by clicking here. All photos by Aby Sam Thomas.
Get in touch with the author @thisisaby.