Inside a Floating, Eco-Conscious Art Project
Wendy Vogel | June 14, 2016
Mattingly, 37, follows the tradition of environmental artists who devise alternative ways of living in the face of impending ecological disaster: she seeks to explore “what you can do on the water that you can’t do on land,” she says, and considers the sea an extension of the commons. In a 2009 work, the “Waterpod” project, Mattingly and four others lived on a self-sustaining barge that navigated New York’s waterways, kitted out with solar energy, edible plants, a water filtration system and chicken coop. Mattingly initially conceived “WetLand” — a repurposed 1971 Rockwell Whitcraft houseboat — for the Philadelphia nonprofit FringeArts in 2014. Collaborating with over 30 organizations, Mattingly gutted the 45-by-12-foot vessel, outfitting it with solar panels and varied species of wood stripped from a gym floor in Iowa. She describes the dramatically sloping boat as “something between sinking and rising, a shack and a palace.” It symbolically evokes the housing market crash, and is literally reminiscent of collapsing homes.
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