PROJECT: The Newtown Creek is an active industrial canal with a long, rich and often troubled history. It is located off the East River between Brooklyn and Queens, bordering Bushwick, Greenpoint, Long Island City and Maspeth. One of America's most polluted waterways, it is home to the second largest oil spill in US history. The EPA recently designated it as a Superfund site and will supervise a massive cleanup. Currently, public access to the creek is limited.
The Newtown Creek Armada is a public art project that allows visitors to safely explore the creek and engage with its rich history. The project is a model boat pond on the shores of the Newtown Creek, launching on weekends in September 2012. Using artifacts, debris and natural elements collected along the banks of the creek, artists Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright crafted a fleet designed to navigate and document some of the most contaminated and inaccessible areas of this waterway. Visitors to The Newtown Creek Armada go to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk to pilot miniature, radio-controlled boats, each equipped with an underwater video camera to record the hidden world beneath the surface. Additionally, there are three freestanding portholes, which contain videos made by the artists and their fleet that transport visitors to areas of the creek accessible only by boat. Visitors peer into the portholes to safely bear witness to the sewage overflows, oil slicks and scenes of fragile interplay between the natural and industrial world.
For DAF, The Newtown Creek Armada video portholes will be installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park, allowing visitors to the festival to immerse themselves in the toxic and strangely beautiful waters of nearby Newtown Creek from the easily accessible shores of the East River.
ABOUT: The Newtown Creek Armada is a collaboration between three Brooklyn artists – Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger, and Sarah Nelson Wright – whose individual work creatively investigates industry, ecology, and change in urban spaces.
Laura Chipley uses video, sculpture and public interventions to scratch away at the surface of the ordinary and investigate the fantastical, spiritual and subversive qualities of everyday objects, places and human interactions. She is the creator of Deep Black Sea, an experimental documentary series that chronicles the aftermath of oil spills around the world. Her installations, sculptures and videos have been exhibited in festivals and galleries across the country. laurachipley.com
Nathan Kensinger is a filmmaker, photographer and curator. His work explores hidden urban landscapes, off-limits structures, and other liminal spaces. Kensinger’s photographs have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and in recent solo shows at the Brooklyn Library and UnionDocs. His recent video installation, The Forgotten City, was included in Bring To Light 2011, and his films have screened widely at film festivals, including Slamdance, Black Maria, Rooftop Films, SF IndieFest, and the Boston Underground. He is currently the Director of Programming at the Brooklyn Film Festival. nathankensinger.com
Sarah Nelson Wright is an interdisciplinary media artist whose work poetically investigates the changing urban landscape and seeks opportunities for public dialog and participation. In 2009, she created Brooklyn Makes, a site-specific video installation on manufacturing in North Brooklyn. She has exhibited in diverse New York venues, including CONFLUX, The Center, PowerHouse ArtSpace and Bring To Light, as well as in Mostra de Artes in San Paulo, Brazil, and ACVic in Vic, Spain. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. She teaches video and media studies at NYU Polytechnic and Hunter College. sarahnelsonwright.com