May 22, 2022 at 7:30 pm
With Nate Dorr, Nathan Kensinger & Cassim Shepard
We are delighted to host Shoreline Change, an evening of cinema and conversation with Nate Dorr and Nathan Kensinger!
Shoreline Change is an ongoing collaboration between Nate Dorr and Nathan Kensinger, who have been creatively documenting the changing waterfront of New York City over the past 16 years. In 2015, they began working on a series of short experimental documentaries rooted in their photographic explorations of the city’s post-industrial neighborhoods. These films explore how the city is addressing its legacy of industrial pollution and ecological devastation, while also facing the existential threat of rising sea levels.
The six films included in this program excavate New York’s complicated history of contaminated landfills and polluted marshlands, and consider visions of a multi-species future shaped by climate change. They examine an endangered woodlands in Long Island City, the demolition of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a managed retreat from sea level rise in Staten Island, and the dredging of the toxic Gowanus Canal. Filmed over the course of many seasons and years, each piece takes a unique approach to exploring the passage of time in landscapes undergoing radical change.
Nate Dorr and Nathan Kensinger have shown these projects as site-specific video installations, exhibited them in museums and galleries, and presented them at film festivals and academic conferences. Several more films in this series are now underway, including portraits of a neighborhood abandoned for 60 years in Edgemere, Queens, and the demolition of East River Park in Manhattan, to make way for New York CIty’s largest storm surge barrier.
We’re delighted to have both Nate and Nathan in attendance along with urbanist Cassim Shepard for a dialogue following the program that seeks to grapple with New York City as a city with shorelines on the water, facing the threat of rapid sea level rise.
Reclaimed Ground by Nate Dorr & Nathan Kensinger
10 min., 2016, United States
Reclaimed Ground captures the final seasons of a unique 30 acre wilderness in Hunter’s Point South, Queens, where the abandoned, industrialized shoreline grew into a forest and wildflower meadows. The landscape here was completely bulldozed in 2016, to make way for an engineered marshland, a more formal park, and new residential towers.
Managed Retreat by Nathan Kensinger
18 min., 2018, United States
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, three Staten Island neighborhoods were purchased by the New York State government, to be demolished and returned to nature as part of the city’s first official ‘managed retreat’ from rising sea levels. This film follows the process of retreat over a year and half, as homes are destroyed, streets are abandoned, and wild animals begin to return.
Urban Growth by Nate Dorr & Nathan Kensinger
13 min., 2020, United States
Filmed over the course of 12 years, Urban Growth documents the demolition of a unique neighborhood of Victorian-era homes inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Abandoned for forty years, the historic mansions of Admiral’s Row slowly receded into a wild-growing forest, which was replaced by a parking lot, grocery store and office buildings.
Triboro by Nate Dorr
7 min., 2021, United States
Triboro collapses time and space along the Triboro Line, an underutilized 24-mile freight rail that connects the waterfronts of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Co-Op City in the Bronx. Composed from over 8000 still photographs taken over eighteen months, this short film condenses seasons, days, and changing weather into a single gliding tracking shot.
Specters of Watch Oak by Nate Dorr
Work in Progress, 17 min., United States
History, mythology, nature, anthropogenic industry, and digitally-reinterpreted landscape collide in the salt meadows and brownfield beaches of northwestern Staten Island. Specters of Watch Oak is a human-haunted nature film with narration drawn from the writings of Staten Island’s historian, naturalist, and mythographer William T. Davis, over the years 1892 – 1927.
Black Mayonnaise by Nathan Kensinger
Work in Progress, 9 min., United States
A dark voyage into one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the United States. A Superfund cleanup is now underway in Brooklyn, unearthing the toxic ‘black mayonnaise’ at the bottom of the Gowanus Canal.
Nate Dorr and Nathan Kensinger have been collaboratively documenting the waterfront of New York City for the past 16 years. Their ongoing project Shoreline Change, which began in 2015, is a series of short experimental documentaries investigating the city’s rapidly changing coastline, where frequently flooded neighborhoods are now being demolished to make way for new wetlands and residential towers. Their films and photographs have been exhibited at museums, galleries, and film festivals worldwide, and in 2021 they were selected for Filmmaker Magazine’s annual list of 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Nate Dorr is also a neuroscientist and film programmer, while Nathan Kensinger is an environmental journalist, arts curator, and installation artist.
Cassim Shepard is an urbanist based in New York City. His video work has been exhibited at venues including the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of the the City of New York, the United Nations, the Pavillon de l’Arsenale (Paris), the African Centre for Cities (Cape Town), and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. His writing on cities has appeared in Next Ciry, Places, Domus, Public Culture, Strangers Guide, and others. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Urban Omnibus, an online publication of The Architectural League of New York, and he has taught urbanism at Columbia University, the London School of Economics, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. His first book, Citymakers: The Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism, was published by Monacelli Press in 2017.
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