Waterpod to Staten Island
Waterpod, the 30-by-100-foot self-sustaining (more or less) eco-barge/art project, makes landfall Tuesday in New Brighton with a welcome party thrown by the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island and SIcoLab happening later in the week.
A biosphere-esque experiment, Waterpod set sail in June from the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a summerlong harbor cruise.
The idea is to raise awareness of the harbor, waterfront and dwindling resources and to demonstrate what coastal life (look out Holland, Bangladesh and Florida) may look like when the ice caps melt once and for all and the seas rise.
Founding crew member/sculptor Mary Mattingly, 30, a Queens landlubber ordinarily, has remained on board almost 24/7 for weeks.
She’s enjoying the ride, she wrote from the lido deck last week.
Q. Are you and your Waterpod mates attaining some measure of self-sufficiency?
A. Yes, we are not dependent on outside energy systems, water systems and most food systems, although for the first six weeks we were supplementing our food with a local [Community Supported Agriculture] program while our gardens got up to speed, and we continue to accept the occasional gift from a person or a group who feels inclined to bring something.
I like the term “gift economy” as it relates to this project.
Q. Actually, what are you eating?
A. We are eating beans, eggs, nuts and 20 different varieties of vegetables from squash to cucumber to eggplant to Swiss chard. We supplement with things that are not yet ready to eat in our garden, like rice, and occasionally people bring us milk, cheese and coffee.
Founding crew member/sculptor Mary Mattingly, hard at work on her art.Q. Are you remaining on board 24/7?
A. I have remained on board 24/7 for two months with the exception of four times. One time to give a lecture, another time to do a two-day job in Elkhart, Ind., for Green Jobs for America, once to celebrate West Harlem’s Restaurant Row with the Hudson River Cafe, and the fourth time I would rather not say.
Q. Besides the experience itself/documenting said experience, what art might grow out of Waterpod?
A. Improvements on the Waterpod (and future Waterpods) is one thing; continuing an exploration on communities and what makes them work/fail; an exploration of different autonomous living systems that are land and water based. I have personally become fascinated with different architectural elements that I have come across on this mobile journey.
Q. Ideally, what should visitors gain from seeing you and Waterpod?
A. I think all visitors will get something different, from surprise to inspiration to amusement. Any way that we can stir up people’s interest in different ways of living is going to be positive.
Ideally, visitors will have a new relationship with and respect for the New York waterways and water in general, a renewed understanding of our dependence on systems and our general overuse of resources, and an interest to simplify and be creative.
The Waterpod welcome on Thursday at Atlantic Salt Inc., 561 Richmond Terr., New Brighton, will include an art market from noon to 5 p.m.; bazaar of recyclable materials; a new Day de Dada video at 6 p.m.; music by Bob Wright, Bill Doerge and Chris Miner at 7 p.m., and a showing of curator/photographer Paul Moakley’s “Memory Loop” with live accompaniment by Painting Soldiers. Waterpod will stay in port at Atlantic Salt Inc. through the end of the month.
by Michael J. Fressola