Waterlines is a choreography for floating sculptures and two canoes in the Gowanus Canal between the Union and Carroll Street Bridges. A floating constellation of sculptures in the water will be shifted and reoriented by Daniel Rothbart and Jessica Harris in dialogue with the currents and the ever-changing environmental situations of the historic waterway.
Rothbart's glass and aluminum sculptures are informed by growth forms in nature but realized in the vernacular of industry and modern architecture. This tension emulates the complex relationship between Gowanus Creek and New York City that first resulted in a canal for commerce, later a dangerously polluted waterway and currently a Superfund cleanup site.
During the test float of a sculpture in the canal, a bird came to perch on the work as though it were a real tree. Similar confusion has proved fatal to a whale and dolphins that have recently made their way from the East River into Gowanus Bay and the canal, succumbing to organic pollutants. Waterlines explores dichotomies of appearance and reality, nature and civilization, creation and destruction, contamination and rehabilitation.
Tableaux flottants viewed from the Union Street Bridge circumscribe the water's surface but the sculptures were also conceived for perception below the waterline. The performance will be videotaped underwater, from the banks of the canal and the bridge. A video work edited from this footage will be presented at Rothbart's forthcoming solo exhibition at the Galerie Depardieu in October 2014 curated by Wolfgang Becker.
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Daniel Rothbart is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. His work explores the relationship between nature, urban postmodern identity and metaphysics. Rothbart holds a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design, an M.F.A. from Columbia University and was awarded a Fulbright grant to Italy. Daniel Rothbart represented the United States at OPEN10 with a floating sculptural installation in Venice. Projects include exhibitions at the Andrea Meislin Gallery, Exit Art and the LAB Gallery in New York and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill. European exhibitions include the Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna in Rome, the Galerie Depardieu in Nice, the Galleria Il Ponte in Florence and the Cultural Centre of Belgrade in Serbia. Rothbart has participated in numerous international artists' residencies and was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts grant.
Daniel is the author of two books: Jewish Metaphysics As Generative Principle in American Art and The Phoenix. His creative work is the subject of a monograph by Enrico Pedrini published in 2010 by Ulisse e Calipso of Naples. Recent projects include OPEN15 in Venice, curated by Paolo De Grandis and "Everything Flows, Nothing Stands Still (For Enrico Pedrini)" curated by Wolfgang Becker in Aachen, Germany. Together with Joachim Gerich, Mr. Rothbart realized a film of the Aachen performance that was screened at White Box in New York. The Galerie Depardieu of Nice presented a solo exhibition of his work at VOLTA NY and Daniel Rothbart's work can be found in public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Jessica Harris is a dancer, educator, choreographer and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. As a dancer, she has worked with Shen Wei Dance Arts for more than ten years. Performances with the company include the Lincoln Center Festival, Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall, La Fenice in Venice, Het Musiztheater in Amsterdam, Hong Kong Grand Theater, Sadler's Wells and more. Ms. Harris joined Shen Wei in choreographing material for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has taught company master classes throughout the US and Europe, including in Hungary, Spain, and Italy. As an educator, Ms. Harris has taught numerous classes and workshops in technique, choreography, and somatics, and served a one-year teaching appointment in the Dance Department at Pomona College, where she introduced a course in Site Specific Performance. In her choreographic work, Ms. Harris experiments with the use of physical limitations and specificity of task as a method for movement generation. Her work includes concert dance, music videos and musicals. As a performance artist, Ms. Harris is interested in how to use performance to communicate information. She has created performances pieces for conferences, events, commercial spaces and for educating children. Ms. Harris is pursuing a Master's degree in performance and marketing at the Gallatin School of individualized Study at New York University.
Proteus Gowanus is an interdisciplinary gallery and reading room. Named for the Greek sea god of change and the adjacent Gowanus Canal, Proteus Gowanus acts as an interpreter of culture and place, deepening the community's sense of context and connection. Every year from September through July, Proteus Gowanus selects a theme for extended investigation through exhibitions of art, artifacts and books as well as events and workshops. This year's theme, WATER, has stimulated five exhibitions and numerous performances, films, lectures, workshops and discussions. The Water year extends through July 14.