Visitors had the chance to pilot a fleet of artist-made, miniature, remote controlled boats along the surface of the Newtown Creek, a Superfund site bordering Brooklyn and Queens, while documenting their trip with waterproof cameras and microphones attached to the models.
A collaboration between artists Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger, and Sarah Nelson Wright, the Newtown Creek Armada was presented in partnership with North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition (nbART) and with support from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the North Brooklyn Boat Club.
The project has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council, In Our Backyards (ioby), Macktez, and Feast Brooklyn.
Wright, one of the artists involved in the project, said she was thrilled to see the boats perform. “It was good to get people out and have them feel like they’ve been immersed in the water,” Wright said.
Wright is an interdisciplinary media artist who uses poetry to investigate urban landscape. In 2009 she created Brooklyn Makes, a site-specific video installation on manufacturing in North Brooklyn. Her art has been seen in CONFLUX, The Center, PowerHouse ArtSpace and Bring To Light.
Approximately 200 people attended the event to explore the art installation. Wright said at least six boats were in the water at all times with two canoes in case boats had technical problems.
Kensinger, a filmmaker, photographer and curator who explores isolated urban landscapes and off-limits structures, said parts of the boats were created with elements found in the creek, such as washed up scrap metal, nature and other materials.
As the exhibit continues Saturdays, Sept. 15, 22 and 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m., Kensinger said there would be a small film made of footage collected from the recorded outings with the boats that would later be presented in the DUMBO Arts Festival.
“My hope is that the people had a fun but also educational experience,” Kensinger said. “I hope that people gained an interest in the creek and the infrastructure that happens there.”
To find out more about the Newtown Creek Armada, visit their website at newtowncreekarmada.org