Time Capsule for Pacific Street Futures, Brooklyn, NY

Environmental Performance Agency Summit
September 2017

We have created an editioned sculptural series in clay. These vessels are used for storing seeds for very long periods of time. The sculptures are small, pyramidal, ceramic vessels with lids, created using the slab construction method. The pyramid shape recalls the Egyptian tombs as well as NESL’s logo. The clay was mixed with a small quantity of sifted dirt from the EPA site on Pacific Street, Brooklyn.

The EPA lot has a history of contamination, with weeds growing through asphalt, thriving, and remediating the site. At this event, we lead participants in identifying the hardy weeds growing spontaneously at EPA, collect their seeds to store in these vessels, and then buried one of the pair onsite as a time capsule. The remaining counterpart vessel is kept as an artifact.

Many ancient cultures stored seeds in clay pots. The dryness of the fired clay would effectively preserve the seeds. There have been instances where a seed stored in this manner was sprouted centuries or even millennia later: for example, an extinct Judean Date Palm grown from 2000 year old seed.

We are inspired by art intended for use or appreciation over millennia. This forces us to think in geologic scales, longer than the span of our own lives. This shift in thinking exemplifies some of the core values inherent in the Next Epoch Seed Library (NESL): decentering the human experience in order to live more reciprocally with other life forms; thinking of how our actions affect the landscape in the long term; considering about what plant species might be up to the challenge of surviving and thriving in an environment wholly changed by our impacts.

photo by Timothy Sean O’Connell

photo by Timothy Sean O’Connell

photo by Timothy Sean O’Connell
Photo by Dan Phiffer