Posts Tagged ‘diane balmori’

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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