George Eastman House explores issues of landscape and sustainability with exhibition Not A Cornfield

Contemporary photography and video display on view May 9-July 12

For Release 2009-05-01

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film presents the exhibition Not a Cornfield, a photography and video installation that celebrates the transformation of a 32-acre brownfield in the historic center of Los Angeles into a cornfield for one agricultural cycle. The exhibition is on view May 9 through July 12, 2009.


The project — which involved 1,500 truckloads of fresh soil and 1 million corn seeds — was created by artist Lauren Bon as a yearlong metabolic sculpture, to bring forth questions surrounding the nature of urban public spaces and convey redemption and hope. The artwork was a visually stunning environmental action and a relational initiative that generated a social and cultural hub. It was also an experiment in project-based philanthropy that irrigated the future site of a new state park. The cornfield flourished during one agricultural cycle, from May 2005 to May 2006. The site has now been turned back to the state of California as parkland.


“Citizens of Los Angeles watched as a site colloquially known as ‘the Cornfield’ was transformed from an abandoned train yard into a cornfield,” explained Bon. “The transformation of the Cornfield reconnected the city center with the presence and then the absence of its namesake.”


The experimental installation at Eastman House explores issues of landscape, sustainability, and ecology. The design is a representation of a 1475 painting that depicts St. Jerome’s studio, where the first Bible was translated from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. “The point of this exhibition is to evoke St. Jerome and suggest the work is itself a translation of the values of earth, seed, water and process within a cultural framework,” Bon said. The exhibition also features several TV and video monitors plus a giant pillow, on which visitors can sit, that bears a photograph of an aerial view of dirt from the Cornfield site.


The exhibition, which is the first to showcase the Not A Cornfield project, is a product of the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation. Not A Cornfield is presented at Eastman House alongside to companion exhibitions, which open June 13: New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape andNature as Artifice: New Dutch Landscape in Photography and Video Art.


Not A Cornfield Lecture


3 p.m. Saturday, July 11

New York Times food columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman discusses what we eat and how to improve our eating. Lecture in the Dryden Theatre with a booksigning to follow. Included with museum admission. Made possible by Wegmans Food Markets. For more information about the exhibition or program, please call (585) 271-3361 or visit

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