4heads is an organization that “specializes in commandeering and beautifying unused spaces” to give them new life. As part of their mission, the former army barracks on Governors Island offer artists the perfect space to fulfill this mission. Exhibits ranging from installations to multimedia productions to sculpture, painting and photography fill the 116 rooms in Section 12. Both local and international artists originating from places such as Morocco and Switzerland are included in the show.
While the Art Fair as a whole was born with sustainability in mind, several artists focus on environmental issues or have been conscious of sustainably sourcing materials used in their work. For instance, Susan Camp’s revived space raises questions related to contemporary agricultural practices and our need for control over nature in all aspects of production. Her room is filled with eerily shaped gourds that have been grown inside handmade molds. They are places among sharp, crawling vines, creating a wasteland like environment.
Another example, who goes by the pseudonym exdeadguy, can be found on the top floor of Section D. Here four rooms, each with a separate set of screens, display his video and sound art. The screens and speakers were sourced with sustainability in mind as they were either found, donated or re-used.
In a small room, an open book with a plant growing out of it sits on a table. Above, the description explains the natural cycle of the piece- the pages from the book were used to make handmade paper that was embedded with seeds and then replanted into the center of the book. Other works in the revamped room by artist Alysha Colangeli focus on growth and natural chains.
As there is no entry fee, besides merit and creativity, few barriers exist. Emerging artists, professionals and the public merge in this month-long celebration of the revitalization of this national landmark. Live music, workshops and special events accompany the ongoing exhibits, creating a fun atmosphere for all ages. Two Boots offers pizza, po’boys, beer and wine for those in need of a little re-fueling. The island itself is a short ferry ride across the New York Harbor with free ferries running regularly from both Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. The fair takes place on Fridays from 11am-4pm and Saturday and Sundays from 11am-6pm.
All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat