Posts Tagged ‘Cassandra Giraldo’

Artists love a challenge. Tell them it’s impossible and they’ll find a way to do it.

As Ralph Gardner Jr. writes for the Wall Street Journal, a good example may be found at one to the most polluted waterways in America, Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal.

“What is it about the Gowanus Canal,” Gardner asks, “that attracts art and artists? I visited a bit more than a year ago and spotted some sort of homemade art project floating in the middle of the canal. It was as if the anonymous artist was saying, ‘Take that, Superfund site!’

“A far more ambitious project alighted [in late September], when Diana Balmori, a celebrated landscape architect and urban designer, oversaw the launch of a floating landscape at the foot of the Whole Foods parking lot that overlooks the canal.

“ ‘The reason we picked the Gowanus Canal is the attempt to show that plant material can clean water,’ Ms. Balmori explained. At the same time, she acknowledged, ‘We picked the hardest.’ …

“The floating island was to be filled with multiple tubes. In a poetic twist, the tubes were to be made of the same culvert pipe used to dump pollution and sewage into the canal.

“Perhaps even more poetically, the goal of the experiment was to test the viability of creating large-scale ‘edible’ islands in polluted urban rivers to serve as a food source. Some plants were to be irrigated with distilled water, others with captured rainwater, and a hearty few even with water directly from the canal. …

“I was told that a duck had laid an egg on some earlier iteration of the project. And indeed, we stood there admiring the island’s three monarch butterflies, a beleaguered species in recent years, flitting about the plants.”

More at the Wall Street Journal, here, but there may be a firewall. The author is highly skeptical about anyone ever eating plants from this island, but you can tell he has a grudging admiration for an optimistic artistic vision that insists on a better future.

Photo: Cassandra Giraldo for The Wall Street Journal

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Photo: Cassandra Giraldo / Wall Street Journal
Slow Art Day host Phil Terry, center, points to El Anatsui’s installation ‘Gli (Wall).’

Thank you, Anna, for pointing out reporter Rebecca Bratburd’s cool story in the Wall Street Journal.

“If art-museum crowds appeared to be moving at snail speed on Saturday,” writes Bratburd, “it’s because they were celebrating Slow Art Day, during which participants in 274 museums around the world got a new, slower perspective on enjoying art.

“Inspired by the experience of gazing at Hans Hofmann’s ‘Fantasia’ and Jackson Pollock’s ‘Convergence’ for hours, Phil Terry launched the art appreciation day in 2010. …

“Mr. Terry, CEO of the New York City-based consulting firm Creative Good, noticed that no one had planned to host an event at Brooklyn Museum this year, so he did the honors. On Saturday, he handed instruction sheets to each of the 35 or so participants. They included straightforward tips, including but not limited to: “Look closely. Back up. There is no wrong way.’ …

“The group then set off at a turtle’s pace to meditate on five of the museum’s roughly 1.5 million works: El Anatsui’s ‘Gli (Wall),’ ‘Waste Paper Bags’ and ‘Peak’; Valerie Hegarty’s ‘Fallen Bierstadt’; and an untitled work by Richard Pousette-Dart. …

“Part of the point is to counteract the rapid pace of modern life, as much as the often overwhelming museum routine, said another participant, Sam Davol, a musician in the band the Magnetic Fields. ‘I felt like I was in slow motion and everyone was whizzing by,’ he said. ‘I began to become self-conscious about it, like a guard would think it was weird that I was standing there for so long.’ …

“Elizabeth Ferguson … said her smartphone complicated matters. ‘I wanted to focus on the piece of art in front of me, but in the midst of it I was getting texts, I wanted to Instagram it, check in on Foursquare and tag #SlowArtDay,’ she said.”

Read more — and try moving slower in your next museum, too.

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