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Artists: We’ll have a ball with Gowanus trash barge

Brooklyn Daily
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The Gowanus Canal could soon be harboring quite a few more discarded bottles.

Brooklyn artists Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi have partnered with Gowanus activist groups to float a 24-foot art piece on the canal in an effort to shed light on the canal’s pollution. The work is an orb made of 450 defective umbrellas and 128 two-liter bottle that, despite its junk-yard looks, they say will help, not hurt, the fetid waterway.

“Any attention is good attention to the canal,” said Hans Hesselein, director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, which is backing the project.

The artists and environmental organizations hope to launch the ball, called the Harvest Dome 2.0, this month but have yet to meet a $5,000 online fund-raising goal that they say they need to launch the rig from Governors Island and tow it to its resting place in Brooklyn’s nautical purgatory. The umbrellas, the artists say, are symbolic of the canal’s problems with toxic street runoff and sewers overflowing during heavy rains.

And they are quick to point out that the big ball of trash will only be sitting in the waterway for six months.

“It’ll never be permanent in the canal,” Levi said.

An earlier sphere of the pair’s, the original Harvest Dome, came to an ignoble end when it washed ashore on Rikers Island and was dismantled by correctional officers. The duo built the second one this summer and first parked it in the Harlem River in late July. When they retrieved the sculpture five weeks later, it was barely the worse for wear.

“The white float ring was speckled with the guano of waterfowl — ducks, geese, egrets,” Levi said. “But the Dome remained silver and white, unchanged by the sojourn.”

The biggest threat to the assemblage is metal corrosion, though that has more to do with the saltwater in the channel than the heavy metals, coal tar, and gasoline, according to the conservancy.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
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