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Outdoor Installation: Dead Horse Bay

Below is a proposal for a  work consisting of a an outdoor installation that will act as both a stand alone sculpture, and as a site for live performance and with accompanying video shot at Dead Horse Bay, located across from Floyd Bennett Airfield on the southwestern edge of Brooklyn.

We are currently looking for funding and a shoreline outdoor exhibition site to complete this work.



About the Site

Dead Horse Bay and the surrounding land suffered as a dumping ground until the early 1970’s. Once one of the most polluted and odorous parts of the city, the site was named for the horse carcasses dumped from processing plants that washed ashore in the 1850’s. From the 1930’s-70’s it was the site of a city landfill. It is now part of the Gateway National Recreational Area.

About the Sculpture
The outdoor sculpture will be modeled after debris scattered throughout the Bay.   The piece will be built from cast remains that are on the beach, such bottles, plates, shoes, animal bones, boat parts and pier poles.  These cast objects will have multi-layers of material. The exterior will be made out of porcelain, and the interior out of sand and salt.  The casting materials will be formulated so that over time the outer shell will degrade exposing the next substance in the form of porous holes, cracks or totally dissolution. The rate of degradation will be varied in the different objects, reflecting their actual degradation time. How much the sculpture disintegrates will depend on how long the piece is installed for. The sculpture will be designed so that key elements remain intact throughout the exhibition, while others degrade over time.

The calculated time-based impermanence of this sculpture directly references elements at Dead Horse Bay, and the issue of dumping trash in the urban environment. Part of the history of this site includes its time as a landfill that burst and poured trash into the bay. This disaster continues to litter the sand with decades worth of debris.  The rise and recession of the tide transports the debris, and exposes new objects with every tidal cycle. The weather erodes the sand dunes and exposes additional detritus. The clay, sand and salt sculpture ties both sites and will be affected by the same natural and human interaction. In this case, the objects will eventually seep back into the ground not leaving a permanent presence on site.  The objects will collide with nature in a non-intrusive or environmentally damaging way (the materials used will be eco-friendly).

About the Video Shot at Dead Horse Bay and Live Performance
The video projected onto the sculpture will consist of a combination of looping shots of the environment at Dead Horse Bay (the intersection between industry and ecology) and performance actions within that environment.  As a characters in the video, we will take on the role of inhabitant of the site, treating it as a home where we are limited to survive off the surroundings. We will perform symbolic actions of necessity and of boredom. In these actions (both absurd and candid), we will make reference to the site’s toxicity, as well as the history of the bay and the various functions it has served over the past 150 years.

The integration of sculptural elements, video and live performance will work together to reference both sites.  The perception of time and action will be distorted and manipulated through natural and made-made processes.

Examples of  Actions in Video and Live Performance.

• modifying the abandoned boat at DHB and partially cast object at Socrates as a shelter to live in and navigate around

• building large sundials out of garbage (overhead shot using weather balloon)

• measuring the tides

• water purification (not real, but absurd using found objects)

• sorting and gathering bottles (referencing past garbage sorters who worked on island)

• strange games to pass the time

• creating safe zones for travel (referring to toxicity of the land)

• futile attempts at trying to fight erosion

• filtering the glass out of the bay (focus on sound)

Posted: May 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments » -->