When Artists Take To The Sea, All The World’s A Canvas

(l-r) R. Buckminster Fuller's "Triton City Model," Constance Hockaday's "You Make a Better Wall Than A Window," Courtney M. Leonard's "Breach #2" and Pedro Reyes' "Floating Pyramid.
(l-r) R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Triton City Model,” Constance Hockaday’s “You Make a Better Wall Than A Window,” Courtney M. Leonard’s “Breach #2” and Pedro Reyes’ “Floating Pyramid.

There are some major installations in the galleries for this show — including a huge raft called Old Hickory that the artist Swoon and a crew of artists assembled of reclaimed materials in Croatia and piloted across the Adriatic Sea to crash the Venice Biennale in 2009.

Swoon's Old Hickory, back from Venice.
Swoon’s Old Hickory, back from Venice.

The raft, with its wooden assemblage of old doors, windows, textiles and joinery work, feels like something that floated up from the Venetian lagoon, calcified by salt and centuries.

It’s impressive in the gallery, but it’s even more impressive as depicted crashing the Biennale, with its half-naked crew on board, in the wonderful catalogue compiled by Ms. Grover in conjunction with the exhibit.

Science and utopian daydreams have a major role to play in this exhibit, too. In particular, Cesar Harada’s styrofoam Protei, a small craft designed to send back data from oil spills and perform clean-up operations, seems equally at home in the center of the Parrish’s gallery, beside a video plug for Mr. Harada’s “Open Sailing” project, which hopes to create an international ocean station similar to the space station.

R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Triton City Model,” a floating city complete with gardens and tennis courts, was created by the architect and inventor in response to a call for designs from President Lyndon Johnson.

Cesar Harada's Protei
Cesar Harada’s Protei

Ms. Grover said Mr. Johnson’s Presidential Library was happy to loan the model, which is rarely seen, to the Parrish.

And Dutch design group Atelier Van Lieshout documented their unique open-water project — an abortion clinic run by a pro-choice group called Women on Waves that takes patients outside of the boundaries of nations that don’t allow abortions in order to provide women with access to safe medical care.

Science and art are natural bedfellows — they both require imagining the not-before-imagined in order for progress to occur — and at the May 21 Tideland Sessions symposium many present were masters of both disciplines.

Ecologist and author Carl Safina gave the keynote address, and he saw the role of the artist as even more important than that.

“Science can tell us about the past and the present, but it can’t tell us how to feel about it,” he said. “Where is the meaning in life? It’s in relationships, both human and non-human. Some of those relationships are good and some are fraught.”


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Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at beth@peconicbathtub.com

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