Life Between Buildings

Jun 2, 2022 – Jan 16, 2023

  • Past
  • Exhibition
Serpent like tufts of grass tied with orange emerge from a sidewalk just before an intersection of vintage cars.

Becky Howland. Tied Grass. 1977. Site-specific installation on traffic island bounded by Franklin Street, Varick Street, and West Broadway

Photo credit: Courtesy the artist. Photo: Becky Howland.

Inspired by the history of community gardens in New York City, Life Between Buildings explores how artists have engaged the city’s interstitial spaces—“vacant” lots, sidewalk cracks, traffic islands, and parks, among others—to consider the politics of public space through an ecological lens. Bringing together select archival materials and artworks from the 1970s through the present day, the exhibition looks beyond a history of artists transforming buildings (such as MoMA PS1) to how they have engaged the spaces in between, turning negative spaces into sites for common life: gardens, installations, performances, and gatherings.

Beginning in the 1970s, at a moment when New York City faced a severe fiscal crisis, grassroots groups across New York City began converting lots into community gardens. This coincided with artists’ efforts to think beyond the confines of the studio, gallery, and museum as sites for their work. At certain moments, these histories intertwined: artists made work in conversation with, and sometimes directly joining, community efforts to rethink the cityscape, recovering space towards creative, communal, and ecological ends. By repurposing liminal and overlooked sites, these groups and artists ask us to rethink how life—human and non-human—can grow in a city where space has become increasingly scarce and nature progressively imperiled.


June 2, 2022–January 16, 2023




22-25 Jackson Avenue Queens, NY 11101


Life Between Buildings is organized by Jody Graf, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.


Allianz is proud to support a series of programs at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 that share new visions for a more sustainable future.

Life Between Buildings is made possible with lead support from the Contemporary Arts Council of the Museum of Modern Art, with additional support provided by Jane and John Comfort.


Tom Burr

b. 1963

Mel Chin

b. 1951

Danielle De Jesus

b. 1987

Niloufar Emamifar

Becky Howland

b. 1951

David L. Johnson

b. 1993

Gordon Matta-Clark

b. 1943, d. 1978

Margaret Morton

b. 1948, d. 2020

Aki Onda

b. 1967

Poncili Creación

est. 2012

POOL (Performance On One Leg)

est. 1981

Matthew Schrader

b. 1984

jackie sumell

b. 1973

The Lower Eastside Girls Club

est. 1996

Cecilia Vicuña

b. 1948

Installation Views

Selected Works