Out of all of the Fringe Festival shows, I chose to see Mary Mattingly’s installation called Wetland, at the Independence Seaport Museum Pier. I was attracted to her installation because I always enjoy learning about ways in which we strive to create our little utopia, and she won me over when it said in the Fringe Festival guide, to come “Visit the artist in her sustainable floating row home to see how art, architecture, and environmental technology come together to create a watery urban utopia.”
Mary’s installation was an awesome, out of the ordinary houseboat floating on the Delaware river, moored right outside of the Seaport Museum. It is a boat but with a façade of a South Philadelphia row home, with the front of the house facing upward as if it was sinking. The rest was the structure of the boat and then attached by rope on both sides were some wood floor extensions where her urban farm existed. Attached to this wood flood extension was another extension of more gardening pots that floated directly on the water made out of plastic tubing. On the inside was a living space, Amanda Feifer gave a presentation on how to do Phickle Veggie Fermentation, there was a small kitchen area, a bedroom area below and a ladder that went to another bedroom space upstairs.
Mary explained to us that she created this because she wanted to come up with a response on how to live and adapt if there happens to be mass flooding. She talked about how there are many cities around the world that are already flooding, so it would be important to start having this conversation earlier than later. She wanted to create an “enclosed” livable space with an entire mini ecosystem. She intended to create a spectacle for people to be impacted by it and learn this message she is trying to convey of living efficiently and sustainably in an adaptable manner with water.
I believe she did a great job accomplishing her goals. She created a mini ecosystem by having bee hives in multiple parts of the row home so that they could pollinate all of the vegetables and herbs growing in the rows of farming she had attached to the boat. She made it possible to use the sugar from the honey and eggs from the chickens that where in a nice sized cage on the back end of the boat, and using the river water or the rain water for different purposes. There were solar panels installed that served for devices as phones, lighting and other house utilities. I also believe that she succeeded in capturing people’s attention by her cool architectural design and ecosystem environment. Many people were there visiting the installation both touring and listening to the presentation.
It totally worked. And it was very much worth going to see it. It was a little “watery utopia” like the Fringe Festival guide said. I strongly recommend you check it out! It is open until the 21st of September.
Check out the rest of my pictures from this experience at my Facebook.com/PonderTree Page! You’ll see the chickens there!