A field of wheat on a $4.5bn patch of New York: the prophetic eco art of Agnes Denes squib

Our new fortnightly series opens with a response to the heatwave: a look at the artist who planted a rural idyll right beside the towering symbols of capitalism and the patriarchy

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1982, Agnes Denes was two months into tending to her two-acre wheatfield, which she had grown in one of the busiest, most urban, and most expensive corners of the world: Battery Park landfill in Manhattan. Even back then, the trash-filled ground that lay underneath the field was valued at $4.5bn.

An act of protest to highlight the paradoxes between the urban and rural worlds, her work, Wheatfield – A Confrontation, was an ambitious four-month project that saw the area transform from urban desolation to waist-high golden wheat. Something that would have seemed unimaginable back then – and even so more today.

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