Artist Amit Greenberg's Creation for World Oceans Month

Artist Amit Greenberg's Creation for World Oceans Month

Celebrate World Oceans Month with artist Amit Greenburg, whose interactive installation benefits the ocean advocacy group, Oceana.

Celebrate World Oceans Month with artist Amit Greenburg, whose interactive installation benefits the ocean advocacy group, Oceana.

Text: Teddy Willson

New York City, sometimes called the concrete jungle, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the ocean. Nevertheless, a group of creatives and advocates have come together in the Chelsea neighborhood to celebrate World Oceans Month during the month of June.

Fashion brand les girls les boys and sustainability-focused water label FOUND have teamed up with world-renowned artist Amit Greenberg to raise funds for Oceana, the world’s largest ocean advocacy group, in their #the100kinitiative.

The initiative’s name comes from the 100,000 glass bottles—exclusively designed by Greenberg—that FOUND has produced in honor of World Oceans Month. All of the proceeds will go to Oceana.

The fundraising effort will also include a curated les girls les boys pop-up shop of the brand’s best-selling swim collection. An interactive installation by Greenberg is on display, as well. The new piece, “Songs for the Ocean,” is a reinterpretation of the famous “Great Wave off Kanagawa.” It features a wave-shaped large-scale musical mobile made from hanging FOUND bottles, some of which will be filled with colored water. Projectors will emit videos of marine animals onto the bottles. Visitors will be gifted metal straws, which they can use to play the music mobile, making their own “Songs for the Ocean.”

Below, V hears from the artist about his inspiration, past work and the collaboration benefitting Oceana.

V: A lot of artworks have to do with the ocean or water. What made "Great Wave off Kanagawa" your choice to reinterpret?

Amit Greenberg: We had secured an amazing and vast space to work with at the Starrett Lehigh building as part of the RXR Social Impact Month, so we knew we had to do something major and at scale. The piece “Songs for the Ocean” came to me when I was thinking about what it meant to really be a part of the ocean.

The most important thing to me was to really bring this project to life through an installation that could be interactive and a real call to action for people to engage with the issues our oceans are facing. The piece needed to be intriguing and hero the FOUND glass bottle materials, so an interpretation of a wave made sense. To build out the experience, we worked with percussionist Fernando Velez to design the musical experience by actually playing the piece. This created an immersive experience that really brought people together. It is very impactful when you see it all together and it really gives you time to reflect on why you are there.

 V: What informed your design of the bottles the most?

AG: For me, it was about making it a simple and reusable drawing that could be a continued part of the philosophy of the project, hero-ing the whales of course and creating sustainable whale stickers for the bottles to bring attention to the project in a minimalist and direct way.

V: How do both the bottles and the installation resemble your past work? How do they differ from it?

AG: All of my work is connected in some way. This project was a unique collaboration with a number of partners that had to come together to make it happen. I worked with the very talented Mats Christeen at Foundrywood. They figured out the math as were able to construct the piece perfectly. We also worked with a great muralist Alana Tsui to artwork the space using the bottle artwork.

V: What excited you the most about this pop-up/collab with FOUND and les girls les boys?

AG: It was a real human effort—everyone was very motivated to make it happen in a very short period of time and it shows what can be achieved when you bring partners together. Les girls les boys is also very passionate about the environment and moving the conversation on using their product, so a swim pop up really felt like a natural complement to the project. The FOUND team, who developed the 100K initiative, are working tirelessly to change the narrative on plastics, and it is such an important message. I am truly delighted to be supporting them.

V: Anything else you'd like to add on the collaboration?

AG: We hope that people come and see it and experience it. It is important that these things can have a lasting impact as we move towards getting consumer attention around fundamental environmental issues so that we can effect change. As an LGBTQ community artist, projects such as these show art and commerce can be used as a platform for change to reach people in a non-political and positive way.

See photos of the collaboration in the slideshow below.

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