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"Floating Island" to Round Manhattan Next Month

Creating a new island in the middle of New York City doesn’t require a landfill, just a little ingenuity. For nine days in September, a 48-foot tugboat towing an “island” on a 30-by-90 foot barge will partially circumnavigate Manhattan on the Hudson and East rivers.


Smithson's Drawing of The Project
Image Courtesy Christie's

The brainchild of the late earthwork artist Robert Smithson, most famous for Spiral Jetty in Utah, the flat-deck barge will hold earth, shrubs, rocks and seven specimens of trees native to the region that will rise 30 to 35 feet. Smithson drew the concept for Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island in 1970, but budget and permit issues derailed the plan’s realization, and he died in a plane crash three years later. The project, budgeted at around $150,000, is a collaboration of the Whitney Museum of American Art and New York-based art group Minetta Brook, and will run from September 17 to 25, after which the trees will be moved to a permanent island and replanted in Central Park.

Gregory Hafkin

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