Come check out Field Notes from the Gowanus at the American Can Factory in April, and thanks to the Can Factory’s Nathan Elbogen, Canary Project’s Ed and Susannah, and to Radhika Subramaniam and Kristina Kaufman of the New School for including us in the FNG program.
About the Liberum Kayak
Locally sourced bamboo, plywood, re-purposed vinyl museum signage, zip ties, epoxy, and upholstery tacks (14’ x 36”)
This is a Liberum Kayak (2011), designed by the Mare Liberum collective. The bamboo was sourced and harvested in Queens, and the vinyl is repurposed signage from a museum. The kayak was hand built, and has proven to be stable and sound after several earlier (less-successful) attempts. Mare Liberum, a collaboration between Ben Cohen, DylanGauthier and Stephan von Muehlen, is a collaborative printmaking, boatbuilding and activism project which we created in response to large-scale gentrification plans for the Gowanus area in the mid 2000’s. We started building improvised watercraft out of found materials, mainly plywood salvaged from construction sites around the neighborhood. It was a way for us to get out onto and explore the Canal, in order to experience that site’s particular state of natural, industrial and post-industrial landscapes, its waste, toxins, detritus and curious lifeforms. We wanted to go there because it was open space, and probably also because many were vying for it at the time. These boats allowed us to make work there as artists, and to have access to a rare – albeit highly toxic – sanctuary in the middle of the city. As part of our practice, we also print and distribute broadsheets and one-off editions that combine historical narratives of place with our own methods, research, and stories of our explorations on the water. These broadsheets often include our own boat plans that simplify traditional boatbuilding methods and lower the technical barriers for others seeking to get into closer contact with the city’s waterways.