Sunday, October 14, 2012

Environmental Investigation: Shua Group

Time: 13 October 2012, starting at 1PM
Place: Guerilla sk8 park near the Morris Canal and I78 overpass, Jersey City, New Jersey Event: Environmental Investigation, a dance performance by the Shua Group
The performance space is not a venue for dance, or music, or theatre. It’s the concrete floor slab of a demolished warehouse that’s been turned into a park by and for skate-boarders and BMX bikers, some of whom stick around for the performance. I’d guess that many of the 40 or so people in the audience have never been back here, perhaps didn’t even know it existed.

This shot is just before the performance began. The guy is not one of the performers, he’s one of the regulars here. We’ll see him again.


The dancers wait ‘off-stage’:


A BMXer rides through.


Though I don’t actually know this, I’m guessing that his performance wasn’t scripted. I’m also guessing that the choreographer and dancers were unfazed by this intrusion that’s not an intrusion because it’s in the environment we all share: together.

There’s a reason this performance, this environmental investigation, is out in the world, not on the protected space of a stage. But you know what the man said: all the world’s a stage. And this non-stage that is a stage has such nice built-in props. And gorgeous sets.

Props to the set designer and stage manager.

Tina (left) and Gregory (right) watching:




I’m getting a flash from one of those old “sword and sandal” flicks, you know where the gladiators salute the rich 1%ers who are watching: “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant”—“We, who are about to die, salute you.”




Now I’m in science fiction land, or horror land, or maybe it’s just the Jersey City Council, or the US Congress, or the World Bank. Or just some young women wearing short dresses made of latex gloves sewn to a backing and wearing buckets over their heads:


The finale takes place on a secondary slab below and next to the primary slab:


Notice the chain link fence and the razor wire. That’s guarding the area immediately under the Thruway. Paid for by Homeland Security dollars, that is, your taxes and mine. The thinking seems to be that terrorists who want to blow up the Thruway will be discouraged when they see that fence.

Nice bike.

That guy in the first shot? That’s him on the left:


The main performance area is to the right while the secondary area is to the left. I took that shot at 1:49:04 and the dancers bowed at 1:49:27. I’ve got the photograph. Maybe I’ll post it one day.

* * * * *

Conceived and choreographed by Laura Quattrocchi in collaboration with Joshua Bisset.

Sculpture by Laura Quattrocchi with Milosz Koziej and the County Prep Artist Collective. Performance by Danica Holoviak, Myssi Robinson, Meagan Woods, Molly Galbraith, Heather Warfel, and Laura Quattrocchi.


  1. Hi Bill
    This is Josh, one of the artists from Shua Group. You took lovely pictures and I am wondering if you could share them with us for our records and promotion of our art. I also read your post to the councilwoman. I have mixed feelings about bringing attention to that place, as right now it's working through a sort of a lawless beauty. But in the end enshrining it as a public space is the only means of keeping it from the hands of golden men... Not sure who owns that whole landscape.
    Best, Josh

  2. Hi Josh. I understand your feelings about that particular location. I don't know who owns it or what's slated for it, but its current use is not particularly secret. It appears built-up a bit since I took the photos in the other post. And the 'clubhouse' has attracted more graffiti.

    Here's a post I did about another guerilla sk8 park. That slab got broken up when a developer bought the land. And then the development got stalled, I assume because of the 2008 financial collapse. I ended up donating a set of photos of that spot to the public library. Here's a document that tells part of that story.

    As for the photos, you can download copies of the above photos (and some more) from my Flickr site, HERE. If you want the original JPGs we'll have to make arrangements as they're a bit large to email conveniently.

  3. Hi Bill,
    I copied your blog post on the 'park' to some folks in cultural affairs. Amazing that the developer bothered to jackhammer that other slab...

    I'd love to have the originals #s 966, 981 and 977. If you can't email them maybe I can meet you etc...

  4. I think the developer was worried about insurance liability.

    Here's some photos of some guys shooting a sk8 video just before the performance.