Since the closing of Fresh Kills Landfill in 2001, New York City’s solid waste is exported from the urban center via trucks, barges, trains, and transfer stations to a broad network of landfills, incinerators, and waste processing facilities around the U.S. As participants in the Freshkills Filed R/D Residency Program, Joe Riley and Audrey Snyder identified ninety seven transfer and destination sites for NYC solid waste and recycling material. In 2017-18 they traveled to forty six of these sites, in an effort to trace connectivity between urban and rural concourses in the chain of removal and dispersion of waste: a navigation of the wastestream. The artists composed photographic and stop-animation portraits for each of these interchanges of the waste network.
Mapping this dispersal network prompts questions about the making, moving, and visibility of waste across widening urban peripheries. Fresh Kills, and its surrounding communities, bare a distinct relationship to the past through the material and histories buried beneath the surface of the ground. Now framed as an ongoing remediation project, Freshkills Park simultaneously represents a displaced burden of unsustainability. Our ongoing excavation of NYC’s wastestreams is an effort to resurface the diffusion of fourteen million tons of garbage in such a way that recreation in the park might also mean re-creating radical attention toward ecological ruin, toxic debt, waste disposal, and other forms of negative commons.
Above: Installation view of Wastestreaming, Freshkills Parks, Staten Island NY; 00:42:32, 2018
Freshkills Park: Field R/D is an expansive art-research program organized by artist/curator Dylan Gauthier and Mariel Villeré. The goal of “Field R/D” is to work with artists to develop an approach for bringing an exhibition, discussion and event series to Freshkills Park on an annual basis. Invited participants create work in visual and performing arts, written word, architecture, pedagogy, and multimedia.
The group of artist/collaboratives meet several times over the course of the residency and are granted special access to the closed Freshkills Park site by appointment. The project involves independent and collaborative research, site visits and field trips, shared meals and conversations in a seminar-style format, culminating in exhibition, publication, and presentation of the proposals that they developed in this supportive environment. Pictured here are presentations made at NADA NY as a cultural partner in March 2018, Open Engagement: Sustainability at the Queens Museum/New York City Panorama in May 2018, and at the 8th Floor for a program titled Waste Time: Breakdown, Decay, and Regeneration at Freshkills Park in September 2018. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs by Natalie Conn, who also visited each participating artist in their workspace to document their individual process and environment.