An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces


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.

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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.

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Installation Shot (Radiator Gallery, Long Island City, December 2015)
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Surface Samples (Radiator Gallery, Long Island City, December 2015)

StoryBank

StoryBank is a platform for sharing and collecting stories. StoryBank was originally created at Elsewhere museum in Greensboro, NC alongside a residency with Nick Szuberla of Appalshop, a Kentucky-based arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia. The storyteller machine (pictured below) was collaboratively designed by Elsewhere’s curatorial team allowing participants to record and type stories, which are deposited into the StoryBank vault – a digital archive that explores a range of site-specific themes. It is also designed to travel and provide story collecting and digital archiving support for community groups and local social justice campaigns.

The StoryBank was recently installed at the Levine Museum of the New South‘s exhibit: Gay America from Kinsey to Stonewall opening tomorrow evening in Charlotte, NC. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to interact with the StoryBank to deposit and withdraw stories in response to works throughout the exhibition and share personal experiences related to gender and/or sexual identity. Stories will be uploaded to the StoryBank’s online archive and featured in a special edition of I Don’t Do Boxes, a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience. The exhibit is organized by the Stonewall National Museum & Archives as part of its mission to collect, preserve and disseminate materials related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture. Thanks to everyone at the Levine for making this possible! For more info visit: http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org/exhibits/detail/?ExhibitId=127

Visit http://teller.goelsewhere.org/ to deposit a story.

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I Don’t Do Boxes: Out Loud!

The second issue of I Don’t Do Boxes, Out Loud!, brings together a diverse collection of stories, poems, artworks and sounds exploring LGBTQ experience. This issue invited queer youth, musicians and artists to explore the power of voice in different ways. An accompanying compilation of music, sounds and recordings offer listeners everything from raucous punk anthems, to ambient noise experiments, queer oral histories, and queer-hop beats. Listen closely and you may hear yourself through the intimate stories shared.

Out Loud! was edited and produced by a team of queer-identifying youth and community members at Elsewhere museum including: Peter Muniz, Bradley Durham, Megan Denton, Alyzza May, Brent Simoneaux, April Parker, Hillary Johnson, Morgan Beatty, Allen Moore, Peter Pendergrass, Kaye Hayes, Damon Shelton, Valerie Wiseman, Niina Cochran + Chris Kennedy.

I Don’t Do Boxes is a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience, published at Elsewhere and edited by a team of queer-identifying youth.

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Solar Energy Commons

A collaborative project with artist Elliott P. Montgomery to connect a 4.8 kW rooftop solar array on the roof of Elsewhere museum with the streets of downtown Greensboro. The final design is a public charging station called the Solar Energy Commons, which also doubles as and solar karaoke kiosk after dusk. The project also included a public programming series called Solar Potentials, exploring the politics of distributed solar electricity in the U.S.

The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as part of a formula grant received by the City of Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Mycological Provisions

An interview project archiving the stories of four contemporary artists while hunting for mushrooms in the summer of 2013. Participating artists include Rob Peterson, Cassie Thornton, Caroline Woolard and Kate Clark. (Research blog: mycologicalprovisions.tumblr.com) (Video Credits: Music by Quilla, Sound design by Marty O’Connor and Quilla) Sound Recordings: Rob Peterson:

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Cassie Thornton:

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Caroline Woolard:

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Kate Clark:

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Museum Futures

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What is the connection between one woman’s 58-year collection, a nomadic assemblage of queer ephemera, a high-tech teen hangout, and the treasured remains of a fishing town?

Beginning in a lake Michigan lagoon and sustained through a trans-continental Skype conversation, Museum Futures is an interview project developed by three people with a shared investment in the dynamic ways a museum can perform. Although we often think of a museum as a static collection of objects to be kept a safe distance from, behind this seemingly impenetrable identity is a network of individual actors that have a stake in their museum’s role as a public actor. Whether it be through the vehicle of a button jar, an ipod touch or a fish trap, a museum has the potential to perform as a dynamic public commons and a place to confront the Other. In the spirit of such possibility, Museum Futures provides a glimpse into the work of educators, anthropologists, consultants, and curators who are re-thinking the performance of the museum’s past, present, and future.

Museum Futures started as a conversation between three people in different parts of the world. Presented on the previous page are some our first communicae. We identified a common interest in what museums could and should be, and decided to investigate ourselves. Over the course of a year and a half we collected interviews, essays and ephemera from museums in our own communities and those we have become a part of. Museum Futures has since become a transdisciplinary collaboration between Living Archives in San Diego, California, Elsewhere in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Institute for Empirical Cultural Science in Tübingen, Germany. Museum Futures is a project by Kate Clark (interviews/illustrations/editing), Christopher Kennedy (interviews/design/layout) and Pablo von Frankenberg (interviews/research/scholarship). Thanks to Elsewhere, University of California San Diego Visual Arts Department, the University of California San Diego Center for the Humanities and Living Archives Research group, Hermione Spriggs, and David Serlin.

DOWNLOAD MUSEUM FUTURES (PDF)

A-LIVE in the Kitchen

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Alive in the Kitchen is food performance for the internet & real life. Alive in the Kitchen re-imagines the cooking show format as a platform for participatory culinary experiments, inviting local communities, puppets, and artists to broadcast a-live from Elsewhere’s kitchen commons. A-LIVE in the Kitchen is also an educational platform for intergenerational communities to understand the importance of a balanced and locally-sourced meal, notions of radical ecology and the art of cooking through play, humor and the magic of puppetry.

PSYCHEDELICATESSEN from Elsewhere on Vimeo.

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99 Books About Love

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99 Books About Love is a project about shelving, sharing and second-hands, collecting 99 books from people all over North Carolina that explore love in its many forms. The project was an Elsewhere collaborative commission for the Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill, NC during the exhibition More Love: Art, Politics and Sharing since the 1990s. The project asked readers from the across the state to select a book about “love” in their personal collection, and inscribe each book with a personal message, poem or note. A sculptural shelving unit was designed by Elsewhere’s building curator Paul Howe to house the books which were on sale during the exhibition at the Ackland Museum Store. Proceeds from 99 Books supported Elsewhere’s QueerLab, a youth-led media project that brought together queer identifying youth to produce I Don’t Do Boxes, a publication exploring LGBTQ experiences in the South.

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School of the Future

School of the Future is an experiment in what school can be. It was the child of the Teaching Artist Union and the Institute for Applied Aesthetics. In 2010 it grew into an outdoor intergenerational free school in Brooklyn. Since then it has become an archive of lessons learned and a network of radical educators who question our current forms of education. We see learning as the most important work of an individual and a community, completely independent of any state education system.

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Groups and Spaces

Groups & Spaces is an online platform that gathers together information on people making art in groups and collaborative situations, groups that run art spaces, and independently run artist spaces and centres. The site serves as an opensource portal for artists, educators and citizens to learn more about these working methods and connect with resources in their area. The platform aims to facilitate dialogue about community engagement, collaborative practices and provide educational resources for new audiences.
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Strataspore

StrataSpore is a platform for collective knowledge about mushrooms. Initiated by Kate Cahill, Christopher Kennedy, Athena Kokoronis, Caroline Woolard, and mycologist Gary Lincoff, Strataspore uses mushrooms as material and metaphor for latent potential and unseen infrastructure. Right now, mushrooms are eating oil spills, connecting old members of Fluxus, feeding communities, and growing as alternative packaging material. Mushrooms are the pivotal orientation point for members of Strataspore to explore urban systems.

 

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Skewl

Skewl is an interactive installation and performance built by the ETC. Collective for the North Carolina Museum of Art. Participants were invited to join us for classes, play at recess, ride the skewl bus, co-create the yearbook and contribute to the environment of learning.

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