Chance Ecologies: Newtown Creek

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On August 6th, 2016, Chance Ecologies launched a day of artist-led actions along the wild edges of the Newtown Creek. This program of participatory public art events, titled Chance Ecologies: Newtown Creek, was created for the Queens Museum as part of Nonstop Metropolis: The Remix, the launch of Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s New York atlas Nonstop Metropolis at the Queens Museum, which will take place in November 2016.

Curated by Catherine Grau and Nathan Kensinger, in response to an essay by Rebecca Solnit from the Atlas, the days events began with an introduction to the Newtown Creek as a source of artistic creativity and a haven for wildlife. The introduction included a talk by the Newtown Creek Alliance, Chance Ecologies community partner for the day, from Willis Elkins, who gave an overview of the work being done at Plank Road, the site of the day’s events. The public was then invited to explore the wild-growing waterfront and participate in a series of overlapping artist-led events taking place at the edges of the creek, a Federal Superfund Site, including walks, workshops, performances, and video installations.

During the course of the day, an enthusiastic group of families, local residents, artists, students, and curious visitors joined in with the artists of Chance Ecologies to creatively explore Plank Road. New media artist Edrex Fontanilla guided visitors through the virtual landscape of Hunter’s Point South; the artists of the Newtown Creek Armada (Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger & Sarah Nelson Wright) installed a video porthole transporting viewers underneath the waters of the Newtown Creek; choreographer Lise Brenner led a group in creating a danceable map of the vegetation onsite; walking artist Dillon de Give facilitated paired walks and conversations, Edmund Mooney & Dylan Gauthier rowed out onto the creek in a handmade boat to create a sonic bridge sound performance, Ellie Irons & Anne Percoco assisted visitors in identifying and collecting seeds from weedy species, Natalia Roumelioti (ntilit) organized a performance by sound artist Tamio Shiraishi, and curator Catherine Grau ended the day with a wild call to the various species that call this chance ecological landscape home.

Chance Ecologies: Newtown Creek will be included in an exhibit at the Queens Museum in October 2016.

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