First, we were presented with the surreal floating bed in the Erie Canal terminus. Not knowing at the time exactly how the installation came to pass, I took the sight at face value figuring that sometimes it’s best to just let sleeping art lie. It didn’t take long for the mastermind behind the project to contact me via email. “It is part of the “Fluid Culture” series I am organizing for the UB Humanities Institute,” Justin Read* wrote. “The project is running through April 2012. You can also find more info at www.fluidculture.org.” Although I haven’t had a chance to meet up with Justin in person yet (or the artists partaking in the exhibit), I did take a bike ride down to Canalside today to scope out some of the other art installations. They are definitely worth a trip to see in person.
When I first saw the Rain Baskets (photo), a functional work of art, I immediately thought of Robinson Crusoe – that this is something that he would have designed as a romanticized, overly elaborate, ‘pre rain barrel’ concept. Scenes from the animated film Fantastic Planet also popped into my head. Of course there is a much deeper meaning behind the work of art. That said, let’s get started with:
Elizabeth Dee Heifferon: “Rain Baskets” (text from Fluid Culture):
“Rain Baskets” serves as a meditation on the wasteful habits that endanger our access to clean water. The installation repurposes discarded materials: broken umbrellas, bamboo rugs, garden hoses, and a retired wine barrel. These are used in combination with sustainable materials: bamboo and manila hemp rope. Through it’s materiality, “Rain Baskets” playfully suggests that ordinary objects could become extraordinary tools for water conservation. The installation, suspended between the trees on the harbor front, consists of a series of four discarded inside-out umbrellas altered to collect rain. They are reinforced with baskets woven from bamboo and mounted to large funnels. Manila hemp ropes stabilize the umbrellas while the water is funneled into discarded hoses. When it rains, the hoses will funnel the water from the baskets to the rain barrel, made from a 220 L oak barrel originally used to age wine in the Niagara region**.
Location: Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf (Canalside).
Installed September 24-November 15.
A nomad, settling for a time to live and create at the water’s edge, I contain the desert from which I came. I am always outwardly in motion in order to maintain an inner calm. Both a yogini and installation artist, I seek to illuminate the fluidly dynamic relationships that are always present between humankind and the environment and to awaken a primal connection to a fundamental unity.
*Justin Read | Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese | Director of Graduate Studies | Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
**All italicized text from Fluid Culture