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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Constructing Pallet City: Prep weekend at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, May 29-31

Our building site at Agger Fish in the Navy Yard!

Since we could not go out to Governors Island to build until weekend of June 5, when the island officially opened to the public, we arranged for a temporary space to sort and prep our 90+ donated shipping pallets, and do test layouts of each different section of the "city." Agger Fish, a fish company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, generously lent us space for building next to one of its warehouses, as well as several stacks of pallets. We picked up the rest of our pallets from Build it Green, a warehouse in Astoria, Queens that collects and sells reused goods.

To quote a popular movie line, discarded pallets can be a bit like a box of chocolates--you never know what you're going to get. They might be dirty or discolored. Boards might be broken. The texture of the wood might resemble a furry animal. So, before starting to put anything together, we needed to select the exact pallets we wanted to use for each part of the city (for example, on any pallets where people would be walking, boards couldn't be too far apart from each other), replace broken boards when needed, and sand off dirt and splinters with power sanders.

We had a great crew of volunteers for this opening weekend...and fortunately the weather cooperated...at least until the very last day!

Unloading pallets from the truck...
We start laying out the "city"

Power sanding!
Breaking pallets apart to replace bad boards with better ones

Fixing up boards to use for specific sections.

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