REMOTE VOYAGES is an exploration of the liminal urban landscape, documenting one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States – the Newtown Creek. A project of The Newtown Creek Armada, this installation presents a window into an often-overlooked New York City waterfront.
Since 2011, the boats of The Newtown Creek Armada have investigated the interplay of nature, industry and pollution on this secluded waterway. The Newtown Creek is a Superfund site: a dumping ground for industrial waste and raw sewage for over 150 years and the site of the largest urban oil spill in the nation. The boats piloted through oil slicks, sand storms and decaying infrastructure, and journeyed alone into inaccessible terrain.
In REMOTE VOYAGES, the boats present their explorations along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, through the creek and its four main tributaries – Whale Creek, Dutch Kills, Maspeth Creek and English Kills. Each boat has taken on materials found during its voyages, representing different aspects of the creek’s past, present and future. Each boat floats on a platform created from industrial flotsam discovered on the New York waterfront. Each boat has traded its video camera for a projector to share its journeys.
The Newtown Creek Armada is a collaboration between three artists – Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright – whose individual work creatively investigates industry, ecology and change in urban spaces. In September 2012, the artists invited the public to pilot the fleet and record their voyages at The Newtown Creek Armada’s public boat pond on the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, one of the only public access points on the creek. Selections from this footage are included in REMOTE VOYAGES.
REMOTE VOYAGES was made possible with the support of the Hudson River Foundation, the North Brooklyn Boat Club, and the Cultural Affairs Department of Two Trees Management. The Newtown Creek Armada was supported by grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council, Macktez, In Our Backyards (ioby), and FEAST, and received assistance from many individual contributors. The project would not have been possible without support from North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the Newtown Creek Alliance, NHS Hobbies and many dedicated volunteers.