Have an idea for embellishing the Fresh Kills landfill, Staten Island's vast repository of garbage—and World Trade Center rubble? Does it involve a large-scale artwork that could also generate electricity? If so, a couple in Dubai wants to know about it. Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian, founders of the Dubai-based Land Art Generator Initiative, have announced an ideas competition aimed at eliciting ideas for Fresh Kills in the form of land-art projects that also contribute power to the grid.
The couple, both graduates of Carnegie Mellon University, moved to the Middle East in 2008, when Monoian, an artist, took a job teaching at the American University in Dubai, and Ferry, an architect, went to work for Yamasaki International (an offshoot of the Michigan firm founded by Minoru Yamasaki). But the firm ceased operations last year. Since then, Ferry has devoted himself full time to their Land Art Generator Initiative (as well as the couple’s design firm and their blog, journalarabia.net).
In 2010, Ferry and Monoian sponsored a land-art competition for several sites in the United Arab Emirates; a jury chose three winners, including one by the Los Angeles firm Predock Frane Architects, which the couple hopes will someday be realized.
For their 2012 competition, they have turned to another vast and barren landscape. Raj Kottamasu, the Arts Program & Grants Manager for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, said his office was supporting the project as part of its “continuing effort to reframe the Fresh Kills site not as a place to be forgotten or blocked out, but as place that can be productive and beautiful.”