Tarp Lake is a nomadic, artificial lake landscape created from billowing, blue, and donated cast-off tarps. The lake was conceived as a complete sensory experience for viewers, who were invited to wade into the lakebed and sit under the roaring, rolling waves. Labels and a book compiling the histories of the tarps enabled visitors to traverse the lake and pinpoint the former lives of each tarp, as used by their previous owners.
The lake creates an ironic space for two reasons. First, it is simultaneously artificial and authentic. While it is made of unnatural plastic, audiences are able to explore in detail the intimate traces of the tarps’ previous lives, such as mud from a woodpile, grease stains from a farm, shredded areas from the wind, etc. The second and more profound irony is that the discarded tarps, consolidated into a lake designed to protect the audience, are symbolic of any lake’s ephemeral feature. We receive tarps that were used by people to shield or maintain things. When the tarps are cast-off, the objects they had safeguarded are exposed to the weather, grime, and abrasion of time. In a sense, the objects begin their journey to a modern day ruin, a place where nature resets itself over humanity’s concrete detritus. These cast-off tarps become synonymous with the point at which we begin to let things decay, when our desire is spent and we stop maintaining a small portion of the built landscape. Thus, the larger irony is that the lake providing protection is deeply symbolic of the impermanence of that very protection. While bathed in the tarps’ healing blue light, the lakebed seems to chime in that its life too is transient.
Tarp Lake in the Media:
Tarp Lake feature in the Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times ran a feature spread on our Tarp Lake project. Read the story to see images of the lake being constructed and for an interview with Marin Abell and I.
Lowe Mill Arts ran a feature in its weekly video spot to promote Tarp Lake. Click on this link to see Tarp Lake in its early stages, and for rare arial footage from the Lowe Mill water tower.
Nashville Scene ran a description of the project in its September preview. Click here to read what they had to say.
Tarp Lake Project Portal. For more information on this project, please see our project webpage at: tarplake.wordpress.com/