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, July 20, 2010

User-submitted photos: Weeks 5-7!

From Malorie:

"My pal, Ilana and I took photos at Pallet City this past weekend. We dig interactive art.

Much Joy,


From Amy: Lily at Pallet City
From Kseniya: "Art"

From Karina: Eli, Age 7

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photos from Gallery Exhibit 2, "Found on Governors Island"

On view July 2-August 6, 2010
Katherine Gressel, Curator

In this Pallet City exhibit, six artists/artist teams respond to the idea of a shipping pallet gallery by exhibiting work made with found or recycled materials. These artists also address questions of the Ideal City as related to the history and future of Governors Island, having mined the island for both building materials and subject matter for their work.

Marina Zamalin’s photo dioramas juxtapose images of Governor’s island and other sites that suggest different possible solutions for the island’s future. Deborah K. Hall re-purposes a found wood cabinet and found sheet metal as a metaphor for “Governors Island as a more carefree world”—the cabinet’s door opens to reveal images of play. Julia Whitney Barnes and Triada Samaras/Susan Handler Konvit address the importance of preserving the island’s natural landscape, from the East River that has become “scarred” by chemicals, to disappearing local wildlife-- Whitney Barnes sees the island as “a perfect location for a bat refuge because of its abundance of abandoned buildings and ample tree cover.” For Katherine Gressel, wood scraps found on the island become canvases for small plein-air paintings completed in one afternoon at Pallet City—they reveal new vantage points of the island as seen through pallet walls. Michael Sherman also explores the potential of the pallet not just as a support structure, but a means of fracturing space and encouraging new interactions with the island.

Marina Zamalin, Island Dioramas 1 and 2, 2010, Photo collage, mixed media

Katherine Gressel, Pallet City Plein-Air, 2010, Acrylic on found wood

Triada Samaras and Susan Handler Konvit, Scarring Our Water, 2010, Canvas, acrylic paint, bamboo, human hair, grommets, wood burning, epoxy, polyurethane

Deborah K. Hall, Go out and Play, 2010, Found wood cabinet, acrylic paint, oil paint, found sheet metal, wire

Michael Sherman, Every Other One (Propeller), 2010, Stain and paint on found pallet wood

Julia Whitney Barnes, Gilded Phytophilic Bats, 2008, Stoneware, glaze, gold luster, brass wire

Visitor-drawn graffiti from our first, participatory exhibit: we sanded some of it off, but kept the contributions we liked the most that were written in response to the question: "What is your idea of the ideal city?"

"Perform"ing and "Observe"ing at Pallet City!

It was amazing to see one group of people following the "instructions" of Pallet City to a tee: without any direction from us, a young woman improvised a choreographed poem on our stage (labeled with the directive "perform"), while her two companions sat on the area labeled "observe"(meant to resemble theater seating facing the "stage"), watched, and applauded! They were nice enough to recreate the ritual a second time so we could watch the full performance, and take their picture. This then sparked conversation--about shared interests, career goals, and what brought this group out to the island from their home in New Jersey.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 4 at Pallet City!

We had a great little picnic with friends and family at the FIGMENT Terrace sculpture garden during the day on July 4--what better way to celebrate the birth of an independent, democratic nation than with participatory art and architecture! Despite the extreme heat, a big tree provided a shady spot from which we could observe passersby enjoying Pallet City and the new work by artists that was up in our gallery. We also had some of our friends pose for photos modeling the different "actions" provoked by the different sections of the sculpture...with some fun results!

"Dwell": we got comfortable!

Once we had parked both our bikes in the bike rack, it seems we had started a trend!=

Silly kids!

Our friends love to "learn!"
Watering the plants