Image / Conduit
June-September 2018
Role: Organizer
Artist: Bill Jenkins

Image / Conduit responds to the topography at Freshkills Park and the contents beneath that give it form. This exhibition looks at how the flow of refuse from the five boroughs of New York City formed the varied 2,200 acre landscape. Fresh Kills Landfill was the primary repository for the city’s refuse between 1948, when the landfill was established, and 2001, when it accepted the final barge of garbage. Anyone who set foot in New York City in this era contributed refuse to what cumulatively became a series of large mounds, which have been engineered and capped to create the picturesque grassy hills of the present.

Artist Bill Jenkins describes the sensation of exploring Freshkills Park as “being inside an image.” This is a unique, perhaps disorienting place to find oneself because images, such as those on a television or in a photograph, are flat; we can only visually enter them, not physically explore them. A quality that Freshkills Park shares with images, though, is compression. An era of granular remnants of life lived in New York City have been compacted beneath a new and final top layer that physically seals off the material past. In an effort to comprehend his own experiences of roaming around the Park, Jenkins devised a method of making video images on site, in the grasses and rainwater runoff, which reenacts the action of compression of physical matter at Freshkills Park into two dimensions.

The installation pairs the resultant videos, titled Scans, with sculptures from Jenkins’ Conduit series, which represent fragments of the systems that regulate the interaction between outdoor and indoor environments, whether through climate control or waste management. Through these sculptural pipeline fragments, Jenkins again attempts to metaphorically interpret the Park as an image and a narrative of infrastructure intertwined with a landscape.

Bill Jenkins is a visual artist born in northern California in 1981 and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Working in sculpture, installation and video, Jenkins extends the inherent functions of utilitarian things and places to explore potential for alternative modes of their use.

With support from: The Freshkills Park Development Team and NYC Parks, The Freshkills Park Alliance, the NYC Department of Sanitation, and the Hyde & Watson Foundation. Special thanks to Teri Hentze (NYC Parks) and to Kristin Lucas and Joe Mackay for technical support.