GOWANUS — A floating art installation that bobbed atop the toxic Gowanus Canal for nearly 18 months has sunk to a watery grave, its creators said Wednesday.
Harvest Dome, a 24-foot orb made of 450 discarded umbrellas and 128 plastic bottles, was supposed to signify a brighter future for the canal, but it succumbed to some dark elements of the past, said Alexander Levi of SLO Architecture who created the dome with his partner Amanda Schachter.
One of the Dome's anchors became ensnared recently in the wreckage of a sunken vessel lurking in the canal. The motion of the tides has steadily pulled the elegant-looking piece of art deeper and deeper into the putrid water, Levi said.
The sunken vessel is believed to be the remnants of a previous floating art project that ended with a group of artists having a party, setting fire to their creation and letting it sink into the waterway — an act that Levi said was "depraved."
While Harvest Dome withstood being hauled by a barge from Inwood to Gowanus, it met its match in the canal's mysterious wreckage, Levi said. He sees the wreck as a reminder of a time when people were fascinated by New York's ceaseless decay and cared less about the environment.
"It’s like some kind of film noir thing where the past of the canal is dragging down this new thing," Levi said. "It was like Darth and Harvest Dome was Luke."
Harvest Dome was meant to be temporary and Levi and Schachter were in the midst of arranging to have the orb fished out and transported to the nearby Benson Scrap Metal facility when it started sinking.
The dome's designers planned to remove it because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon start dredging solids out of the canal as part of the Superfund cleanup. EPA has now agreed to remove Harvest Dome during dredging, Levi said.
“It’s a natural life cycle event,” Levi said of Harvest Dome's demise. “We hope for the best but expect the worst. The sunken vessel was like a phantom menace.”