This past weekend, on a predominantly unguided but fully sensory tour, 20 intrepid explorers headed out with Daniel Campo, author of The Accidental Playground and artists Ellis Irons and Chris Kennedy, to take in Hunters Point South, one of the the city’s last accidental waterfront wild spaces. This post-industrial edge condition is a last holdout before encroaching development overtakes the Queens border with the East River. For many, even those that may live in Long Island City, this little patch of wilderness, with its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, may come as a surprise. And as the leaders of this expedition showed, its presence is an important reminder of our relationship with the city’s natural environment as well as its long, complex history of development.
Photo via Chance Ecologies
The event was part of Chance Ecologies, a new public art project curated by photographer Nathan Kensinger, urbanism reporter Stephen Zachs and artist Catherine Grau. Chance Ecologies aims to create discourse around the city’s wild, abandoned and un-designed spaces. For this walk, we began at the East River Ferry terminal, with artists Ellie Irons and Chris Kennedy leading us to use charcoal and paper to record different kinds of surfaces in Hunters Point South Park.
As soon as we jumped across the fence, we were in an environment of wilderness. We took additional samples of surfaces using the charcoal and quickly saw that the texture is a lot richer than those in the man made park, a highly curated environment. Ellie also showed us a stone table and a grill, a hang out place for people who used to work on this waterfront long ago.