Scroll to the end of this post to see references to previous works by Duke Riley. Below is Acorn, a replica submarine (not in the current exhibit) involved in a 2007 “unauthorized” re-enactment of Bushnell’s Turtle attack on British vessels in the harbor in 1776.
To quote Eleanor Heartney in the introduction to the book accompanying the Magnan Metz show, “As American cities vie to transform their waterfronts into tourist attractions and high-end residential communities, it becomes difficult to remember that historically, the place where the city meets the sea has been the haven of society’s discards and degenerates… long … fertile ground for tall tales and urban legends. Duke Riley’s Imagined Histories, illegal performances and dioramic installations tap into that fast disappearing world, blending fact and fancy in a way that reminds us that history is anything but an objective science.”
The huge (say 10′ x 10′) drawing below–a centerpiece for one of the riparian tales–depicts the battle for what’s today called Petty Island (Citgo) Terminal in the Delaware River between Camden and Philadelphia. Once it was a farm and a “kingdom” of the Laird family. Now it’s home to a tank farm and container port. Play this video for a clue to where I’m off to. A foto of King Ralston Laird’s mural appears in the last foto of the last link in this post.
Riley’s huge works allude to his tattooing work. They also suggest scrimshaw of another age. Pynchonian in scope and beautifully Boschian in complexity and grotesqueness. in I spent at least 15 minutes zeroing in on details in this huge tableau.
The other river tale relates to the Cuyahoga.
Submarine foto above comes compliments of Kitty Joe Sainte-Marie, Duke Riley’s project manager. Many thanks.
Here’s an article on Duke Riley’s letter to Hugo Chavez, relative to Petty Island. And scroll all the way through this article for a foto of King Ralston Laird atop one of the Petty Island storage tanks.