written, directed, filmed together with Sonia Sobrino Ralston

Coney Island 2019
exhibited at the 12th International Architecture Biennial in Sao Paul, 2019, as part of ‘Liquid Landscapes”, curated by Mario Gandelsonas and Curt Gambetta

Coney Island is an island only by name. But this was not always the case: its relationship to Brooklyn’s landmass changed according to the whims of industry and recreation. In the 18th century, a shallow creek was dredged in order to serve light industry along the Island’s northern edge, spanning from present-day Gravesend Bay in the west to Sheepshead Bay in the east. The creek was severed and the island was transformed into a peninsula because of illegal infill made during the 1930s. While the south side of the Island became a famous hotbed for seaside amusement, the north side along the creek served the recreation activities of locals. The video follows the 5.5-kilometer path of the creek along the northern edge of the Island, a route that reveals public housing blocks, storage facilities and autobody shops as well as two lively parks at either end. Despite massive changes in topography and use, hints of the original creek’s existence are embedded in the Island’s street grid and highway infrastructure. While the path of the creek currently enjoys relative stability, planned changes in recreation and transportation infrastructure will transform the ecology and topography of the area. The spit in Gravesend Bay—where water originating from Sheepshead Bay is poured from the barrel—is the proposed site of a controversial new ferry dock and dredging of the spit of land. The dredging and infilling of the creek continues to alter the ecological, industrial and economic significance of the creek, which, at its core, fundamentally shapes the experience of life on Coney Island.


© Copyright Simon Lesina-Debiasi 2020