Ground Reclaimed: Lost Landscapes of Long Island City Projected onto Hunter’s Point South Park

In 2015, Untapped New York accompanied the Chance Ecologies team, which includes artists and documentarians Nathan Kensinger and Nate Dorr, on an exploration of Hunters Point South, then one of the last accidental waterfront spaces along the New York City waterfront. Kensinger and Dorr invited twenty artists to respond to the site before it was demolished. In the eight years since, we have watched the site transform into a world-class climate resistant park and have brought our Untapped New York Insider members on multiple tours of the space with NYC Parks staff as well as with the principal architects of the project, Thomas Balsey and Michael Manfredi. Now, we’ve come full circle with a site-specific video installation called “Ground Reclaimed” by Kensinger and Dorr over the weekend, projected onto Hunter’s Point South kayak launch..

Photo by Nathan Kensinger

As Kensinger tells Untapped New York, “We projected videos of the lost landscapes of Hunter’s Point South onto the new structures inside Hunter’s Point South Park, showing the decades-old wild forest and meadow ecosystem that was completely demolished to make way for the park. The installation included “Reclaimed Ground” – our 2016 film – and three newly created video pieces, walking viewers through the landscape of trees, flowers, birds and insects that were destroyed.” Reclaimed Ground was shown at the Radiator Gallery and the Queens Museum.

Video projection onto wall at Hunters Point South Park
Photo by Nathan Kensinger

The installation forms part of Kensinger and Dorr’s larger, ongoing series of public interventions which involve projecting the New York City coastline onto unexpected surfaces. You may have caught their “memorial” to Admiral’s Row onto the Wegman’s development at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2019 or the video installation in the Seaport District against the Wavertree ship and other locations during Art at the Blueline. Or you may have seen Kensinger’s film, “Managed Retreat” which looked at the reconstruction of three Staten Island neighborhoods after Hurricane Sandy.

Ground Reclaimed projection by Nathan Kensinger and Nathan Dorr under the prow
Photo by Nathan Kensinger

The latest installation along the Queens waterfront layers three videos of the landscapes that were lost onto the new construction, be it towers, walls or man-made structures. As Kensinger describes, “The pieces invited viewers to walk through the woodlands and wildflower meadows that lived here just seven years ago. ” The film Reclaimed Ground was projected onto the park’s kayak launch, alongside works by other artists, part of Creekworthy, a summer-long art event curated by the Flux Factory that will also explore Newtown Creek. Flux Factory’s new art space will be located inside one of the towers in Hunter’s Point South, another part of the loop of development that has been going on here for nearly a decade.

Video projection under residential buildings in Long Island City
Photo by Nathan Kensinger

Kensinger concludes, “Most people we talked with in the park were unaware of the history of the site, and how the new park was created by totally destroying several thriving green spaces. There is just one historic placard in the newest section of Hunter’s Point South Park, which is hidden away at its southern end. With this installation, we sought to bring back the landscapes and species that were erased, and to engage viewers in a conversation about the city’s endangered wild green spaces. Viewers were definitely surprised to see the videos, and then to learn that they were filmed in this exact same place. The waterfront there has changed so much over the last seven years, it is almost unrecognizable.”

Next, check out Nate Dorr’s photographs of the abandoned freight line tracks that could become the Interborough Express and discover the secrets of Long Island City.

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