Drawing inspiration from young adult dystopian fiction, Vali and the Tale of Gomma the Oil Plume King tells the story of a genderqueer girl named Vali and a group of teenage clans that live below the surface of Hunter’s Point. One day Vali sees a huge plume of smoke rising from a nearby factory that threatens to decimate the annual crop of wild edibles. As Vali gets closer to the truth, she discovers more than she’d like to know.
Developed for Chance Ecologies, a platform for artistic gestures and research projects exploring the un-designed landscapes and wilderness found in abandoned spaces, post-industrial sites, and landfills.
The Almost Island is a coloring book exploring the forgotten histories of Hunter’s Point South in Queens, NY from the perspective of the land itself; a transformation from salt marsh to bustling transportation hub, from rewilded forest to luxury housing development. In an 1882 historical account of Queens County*, Hunter’s Point is described as “almost an island, bounded on the north by a ditch on the salt meadow, to the south by Newtown Creek, and west by the East River.” During high tide a small island emerged where sea captain George Hunter once maintained an active homestead. As the tidal waters receded, oyster reefs and rock edifice revealed. Although the land has undergone a number of transformations it still remains almost an island connected to the East River’s tidal pulse and daily estuarial flow. *History of Queens County by W. W. Munsell, 1882, pp. 258-328
An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces identifies and categorizes a range anthropogenic, naturally occurring, and hybrid surfaces in the area known as Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Queens. In collaboration with artist Ellie Irons, the project is a part of Chance Ecologies, a platform for documenting, learning from, and commemorating naturally occurring ecosystems in NYC and articulating contemporary readings of and new forms of relating to (urban) wilderness.
The site chosen for the first iteration of the project, Hunter’s Point South, has a long and sordid history. The land was once an “almost-island” surrounded by a great salt marsh, transformed into an active homestead in the mid 1800s, industrialized at the turn of the 20 Century, and then left dormant for the past 20 years. In the wake of constant redevelopment a lush rewilded landscape has emerged; a thick forest bordering the East River, and a prairie like ecosystem growing at the heart of the site. In a matter of months the site is destined to be “redeveloped” into 11 high density luxury condominiums, redefining an already gentrified Queens waterfront.
The Atlas was created in the months before the current transformation of Hunter’s Point South began, when the overlaps, edges and frictions between man-made park infrastructure and long re-wilded landscapes of Hunter’s Point South were still intact. It provides a comparative study between the spontaneous, un-designed spaces of the former Hunter’s Point, and the textures and structures that will take its place as redevelopment and gentrification continue.
A collection of surfaces from each place was archived through a four month investigation exploring trails, paths and desire lines built by consensus and those defined by park design (taking the form of photographs, videos, rubbings and physical samples). A novel classification system was created to accommodate hybridized and newly identified surfaces — evidence of historical and ecological transformations that a soil sample, archeological dig, or plant identification alone could not provide. For instance, taxonomic distinctions like “Impervious Landfill Rubble” (see p. 11) identify a specific kind of transitional construction debri that defined the perimeter of the site. The collection of brick, cement chunks, sidewalk wreckage, and other composite materials point to the site’s history, ecological reclamation, and a literal/metaphoric process of weatherization and decay. This category in particular is one that will be locally extinct when the redevelopment of Hunter’s Point South is complete.
As unassuming as these surfaces may appear, they nonetheless offer a glimpse into the ongoing transformation reshaping New York City, and places like it. The surfaces act as vital touchstone, an exterior skin, a bio-cultural indicator of urban decay, supposed renewal, and waves of gentrification yet to come.
A movement-research collaboration with Eva Perrotta and Corinne Cappelletti, and DE-CONSTRUKT [projeckts]. As the first in a three part laboratory dedicated to understanding the life, function and characteristics of the wild plants in Red Hook Brooklyn, we explored the detoxification capacities of dandelion. Each lab is framed by pairing ruderal plants with a particular body function to experiment, play, and re-connect with ecological systems in the urban environment. The lab led participants through a series of experiences through which movement and embodied response offered new kinetic understandings of the neighborhood, the body and plants we often consider “weeds”.
In collaboration with the Queer People of Color Collective, the third issue of I Don’t Do Boxes explores the politics of activism, resistance, and performance with a range of essays, articles, and artworks from queer-identifying youth and individuals from around the country.
I Don’t Do Boxes is a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience, published at Elsewhere and edited by a team of queer-identifying youth.
Above Middle and Below is a three-part laboratory dedicated to formulating ideas for an Open Movement score through collaboration facilitated by Leila Mougoui Bakhitiari (urban ecologist), Christopher Kennedy (teaching artist), Athena Kokoronis (choreographer), and Jan Mun (artist-scientist). Part One is dedicated to presenting and mapping Fort Greene Park’s social and ecological relationships. Part Two focuses on formulating and performing in an Open Movement score. Part Three is dedicated to conversation and archiving our collaboration together. Co-led by Athena Kokoronis, Chris Kennedy, Leila Mougoui Bakhtiari, and Jan Mun on May 17 in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.
QueerLab is a youth-led media program exploring LGBTQ experience in North Carolina. Each QueerLab session brings together an editorial team of queer identifying youth to publish I Don’t Do Boxes, and organize workshops focused on creative media production and digital storytelling.