About Pallet City

Artists: Katherine Gressel and Jeremy Reed

Pallet City
was an interactive public art project made almost entirely from recycled shipping pallets. Pallet City juxtaposes different common uses of the pallet as an art/building material, and invites participation and feedback, simultaneously raising questions about practicality and aesthetics of pallet use. The city's fluid, linear forms and signage imply different actions that take place within the urban environment: sit (implied by a bench); park (a bike rack); dwell (a shelter); plant (a planter with small garden, which visitors can help water); perform (a stage where visitors can mount and document spontaneous performances); observe (seats accompanying the theater); exhibit (a gallery space with 2-3 different exhibits that the artists will curate during the summer, and a shelf where visitors can curate their own exhibits); play (a playful rolling wave), and learn (an ‘information kiosk’ at one end). Pallet City thus describes the city in terms of active, democratic use rather than passive viewing or restricted areas. The project was meant to spark public dialogue on the notion of city itself and the creation of democratic, sustainable cities. Pallet City was designed for the FIGMENT Terrace season-long sculpture garden on Governors Island in summer 2010.

Pallet City was open to the public at all times Governors Island was open to the public, Friday-Sunday, June 5-October 3, 2010. Please visit the official Governors Island page for directions to the island.

This blog documents the development of the project, and the public's experiences with it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

User-submitted photos: Week 3!

From Sierra: "Sweating in Pallet City"

User-submitted photos: Week 2!

From Eduardo Alexander Rabel
From Cara

Elle's Pallet City Story

"While others parked their bikes, we fell in love on the bench, resting, in the shelter, of Pallet City, on that day. However, as we traversed through the City, the lad refused to dance, on the pallet, and we went up and down the bumps of the pallets and then we came to the end, where we promptly fell out of love and left the City. Parting is such sweet sorrow, in Pallet City."

Actually, this is a true story. The gent in the photo spent a lovely day with me and I took these pictures, at Pallet City, of our bliss. Later that night, he confessed to commitment issues (how New York) and while now the gent is gone, I still have the photos we were planning on submitting to your project. Now you have the photos and a story of the fastest love in Pallet City.


User-submitted photos: Week 1!

From Roddy: "Really enjoyed our day on the island and especially the FIGMENT exhibits. Thanks. Looking forward to seeing more in the future. Great work."

From Jas
From Drew

From David: "Perform"

From David: "Sit"
From Chris, "Great re-purposing project!"

From Ben

Photos from Gallery Exhibit 1, "Framing the Ideal City"

A participatory opening exhibition
On view June 11-27

What is your vision of an ideal city?

Pallet City’s design suggests various components that make up an ideal city: green space, sustainable building materials, cultural venues, urban farming. Surrounding Pallet City, the FIGMENT sculpture garden, and the newly preserved and redeveloping Governors Island, also pose innovative models for urban living.

On the Pallet City “exhibit” walls, found vintage frames contain once-blank Tyvek paper—implying connection between past and future, and the role of Governors Island as one of the few still-developing sites in New York City.

At FIGMENT opening weekend, visitors were invited to decorate these blank surfaces with their visions of an ideal city. People also chose to leave their marks on the gallery walls, turning this section into a participatory, guerrilla art experience.

The graffiti outside the frames was not originally intended, but turned out to be a nice addition, in terms of further enhancing the idea of a participatory gallery that is decorated and curated by the public. At opening weekend, viewers seemed to love making their marks on the pallets. People even wrote and drew things about what they'd like to see in their ideal city. We would later sand off some of this graffiti to prep the walls for future art exhibits, but wound up keeping some of the most pithy and artistic contributions from the public.

Opening weekend! June 11-13

FIGMENT opening weekend brought tens of thousands of people to Governors Island to take part in interactive art projects all over the island. Pallet City appeared to be very popular, as people climbed it, sat in it, and drew all over our gallery walls. These are some of our favorite photos of Pallet City from that weekend:

Constructing Pallet City: Buidling on Governors Island, June 6-11

Once the pallets were prepped we had only a week to put the entire project together on the island--and unlike in the Navy Yard, where we had 24-hour access, all building on Governors Island had to be done between the hours of 8am-6pm, when the island was open. We also had to coordinate with the island and FIGMENT to get a huge U-haul truck onto an early morning ferry in advance, to deliver our pallets and a huge collection of power tools, wood stain, extension cords, etc.

Our major construction day was Sunday, June 6, where we fortunately had a great turnout of volunteers. We broke them into teams, each team working on a different section of Pallet City. In addition to building each structure, we had to stain all the wood to make the color more consistent, create and put up signs labeling each section of the "city," and many other details...but fortunately our volunteers were completely up to the task!

Some of our core construction team members: Mohammad Rajab, Jim Reed, Katherine Gressel, Jeremy Reed, Joseph Reed
The project site pre-pallets

Laying out and constructing each section--in some cases, we had to cut the pallets down to a different size.
Putting the stage together
Putting gallery and tower walls together
Constructing the play structure

Our team, at the end of day 1!

Putting up the gallery space
Joey's brilliant invention: combination roller-brush!