World Financial Center Hangs Garbage Chandelier
In 2006, Canadian visual artist Katharine Harvey dreamed of creating an installation that exceeded the limits of her pocketbook. “I wanted to build a waterfall, and I wanted to make something big, but I didn’t have much of a budget at the time,” she said. She was in search of affordable materials that might resemble water when it occurred to her: plastics.
From that point onward, Harvey began to collect discarded plastic. She would go down the street with her car and pick up bottles and other packaging, which she would wash, de-label, and string together for a series of mesmerizing installations. Between projects, she stored her heap of materials in a friend’s barn, where they awaited future use.
Six years later, many of those same materials can be found hanging in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center in Manhattan. This April, on the eve of Earth Day, Harvey and four assistants hung 450 pounds of water bottles, salad boxes, toy packaging, and egg cartons above the Garden’s marble staircase. Taken together, these materials do not resemble trash; they resemble a shimmering chandelier.
The chandelier, originally installed at Toronto’s Brookfield Place, is framed perfectly by the architecture of the Winter Garden. “It’s the best placement I’ve ever had for a piece I’ve done in a public space,” Harvey said. “It’s placed in the middle of the staircase, and people can practically walk above it, or in the middle of it, or further down.” Harvey also noted that the chandelier is “made out of transparent materials, which have an interesting relationship to the glass ceiling in the winter garden. There are all these interrelations between the transparency of the piece and the glass. The lighting is fantastic.”
Earth Day or no, Harvey is careful not to overstate her point. “I try not to beat people over the head with the environmental issue. I think people can figure it out on their own when they see it.”
If New Yorkers want to draw their own conclusions, they should hurry up and catch Harvey’s chandelier, which will adorn the Winter Garden through May 11th.
--Image by Katharine Harvey