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Chance Ecologies: The Wild Landscapes of Hunter’s Point South, an exhibition at Radiator Gallery in Long Island City, presents art inspired by an abandoned post-industrial property that is now being redeveloped along the Queens waterfront. Formed by three curators, Catherine Grau, photographer Nathan Kensinger, and Stephen Zachs, Chance Ecologies is an experimental art project exploring the value of wild places in a changing city. In August, we walked the landscape in question with the team of Chance Ecologies, and we’re excited to see the artistic output from their work this year.

Endangered Surfaces, Christopher Kennedy & Ellie Irons, 2015

Hunter’s Point South is a large property bounded by Newtown Creek, the East River, Hunter’s Point, and Long Island City which sat vacant for over three decades. The area was formally off-limits to the public, but a little like the High Line, many had visited it to experience a place reclaimed by nature following its use as an industrial zone in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Silkscreen Print by Christopher Kennedy, 2015

The site is now being transformed into the second phase of a new 30-acre development. This phase will add about 3,000 housing units (60 percent for low and middle-income households), for a total of about 5,000 units overall, with new streets and parks.

Hunter’s Point South Phase 2 Linear Park (Credit: Thomas Balsley Associates via NYC EDC

Before construction started to reshape the area this year, Chance Ecologies brought together over 20 artists to engage with this soon to be lost place. The artists, working in a a variety of media, created new site-specific works based on what they found there. In addition, Chance Ecologies involved the public through activities such as walks through the property, temporary exhibits, archaeological digs, and performances during this past summer within the property.

Chance Ecologies Exploration of Hunter’s Point South, August 2015

Examples of work on display in the current exhibit at Radiator Gallery include a poster illustrating some of the wild plants found in the area and a photo typology of the “endangered surfaces” to be lost as the area becomes a new neighborhood of streets, buildings, and landscaped parkland.

Pink Smoke, by Raphaele Shirley (2015)

Another artist created a series of S.O.S distress signals on behalf of the area in its existing form. One form this took was setting off a number of safety flares as a call to help. Of course, the call for help went unanswered but a part of what existed there is preserved and celebrated as part of the exhibit even as a new landscape is taking its place.

Next Epoch Seed Library, by Ellie Irons & Anne Percoco, 2015. Archives of seeds found at Hunter’s Point South

In an interview with Untapped Cities, Grau and Kensinger indicated they would like to apply the Chance Ecologies approach to other locations. With waterfront redevelopment spreading across the five boroughs of New York and elsewhere, it will be interesting to see where they turn to next.

chance-ecologies-christopher-kennedy-ellie-irons-hunters-point-south-queens-nyc-untapped-cities-jeff-reuben-03An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces, Christopher Kennedy, 2015.

About 17 of the artists’ work is featured in the current exhibition at Radiator Gallery, which runs through January 22, 2016. This exhibit will be followed by another one next autumn at the Queens Museum of Arts.

Radiator Gallery, part of RadiatorArts, is located at 10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, NYC.  The exhibit is open Fridays and Sundays, 1 to 6 PM and by appointment.

Movement Workshop by Luciana Freire D’Anunciação, 2015.  Photo by Catherine Grau

Upcoming Chance Ecologies events include an “Endangered Surfaces Walk to Hunter’s Point South” on Saturday, January 16, 2016, 2:30 PM, followed by “A Reading for the Birds” (reading and talk) at Radiator Gallery at 5:30 PM and “Art, Archaeology and Curious Activity of Digging Up Nothing” (archaeology panel) at 7:00 PM.  On Sunday January 17, 2016, a “Site and Field: Listening to Hunter’s Point South” walking tour will be conducted at 2:30 PM, followed by an “Experimental Sunset Viewing” at 4:54 PM, and a “Curators’ Talk and Walk-through the Exhibition” at 6:30 PM.

The exhibition is produced in affiliation with Amplifier Inc., a nonprofit organization using art and design as tools of urban transformation and city-making.

Next, read about Untapped Cities visit to Hunter’s Point South with Chance Ecologies this past summer and combined overflow: artists take on NYC’s two big Superfund sites.

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