In March I was approached by curator Brendan Carroll to see if I would propose something for the ArtBloc shipping containers that were located next to Hamilton Park on a Silverman construction site in Jersey City. ArtBloc is a mobile contemporary art and performance space, built from repurposed shipping containers. I brainstormed the proposal with a fellow artist, Charlotte Becket (we are both Art profs at Pace University) and we came up with the idea for RELEASE, where the containers themselves become the objets d’art ;they release a cloud of fog every hour, 24/7 for 3 months.
After several months of planning, testing, etc, we finally got the piece to work the way we wanted and it was beautiful. The containers have large windows and every hour you could see them fill with fog ( theatre grade fog machines are hidden inside) then the fog leaked from the seams and cracks around the windows for the next half hour or so. It was lovely and created the beautiful, mystical intriguing cloud that we had imagined.
What we didn’t predict was the Boston Marathon bombing’s cloud of white smoke and how much a white cloud issuing from shipping containers in an urban setting would unsettle to people. Nevertheless, RELEASE had a great opening, with hundred in attendance who all gathered around on the hour to watch the fog. However, 2 days later, when RELEASE issued its timed cloud of fog on a Sunday morning, a passerby did not see the mysterous cloud as intriguing or beautiful, but instead saw it as dangerous and called 911. (apparently not taking a second to notice the 8 foot ArtBloc Banner of the many smaller notices describing the piece.) With sirens wailing 6 fire trucks blocked off the street at both ends spilling forth fully clad firemen who immediately read the one of the many posted descriptions of the piece and realized it was a false alarm. However, they made us shut down the piece.
Eventually, Paul Silverman and Fire Chief Rover hammered out a compromise; RELEASE could run but only if MUCH more public outreach was done and only if it ran 2 times a day.Now, a month after its debut, RELEASE is back in action for the month of June. RELEASE will emit a cloud of fog a noon and 8 pm , every day until the end of the month. There are now large 6x3 foot banner on the nearby fence explaining the piece and we did a flyering campaign to ensure more community awareness. The piece, which is a dialogue about the esthetics of nature dropped into inan urban landscape and issues of beauty vs apprehension, has certainly become a topic of conversation.