Artist Joanna Zabielska

Muzzled Mermaid

Polish born, Vienna based artist, Joanna Zabielska came to Red Hook, Brooklyn for a one month residency at de-construkt in January of 2020.

Title of the project: The Little Mermaid

Statement of the project:

By some magical coincidence, Red Hook in Brooklyn was not yet hit by the gentrification wave. But the wind of change is coming. In last days, more and more industrial red-brick houses from end of 18th century disappears in mystery. The process started by construction of IKEA on the land of historic docks is unstoppable.  As next in the line, stand Revere Sugar Refinery, erased in hurry against community protests. Then S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse and the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company are being demolished now, along with last traces of Red Hook maritime history. Local inhabitants aware of their lost do protest, but seems that they voice is taken away by developers. Red Hook definitely needs an Ariel- alike hero. And a happy end in Disney style.

Pictures were taken by Unice Gomez.

JOANNA ZABIELSKA (based in Vienna, Austria) is working on the intersection of art, design and architecture, Zabielska approaches the social and spatial issues of the transformation of the city. Using different media – from inflatable textile installations to cooking performance, she develops participatory, site- specific projects together with the local community. She is currently in charge of an art and design space Die Labile Botschaft (the unstable embassy) in a former supermarket in the heart of Vienna, and working as a freelancer in field of exhibition design for various offices and museums.

Learn more about artist Joanna Zabielska on her  website and in a short portfolio (pdf) attached below.

Joanna Zabielska's PortSide story

Within days of her arrival Joanna asked if she could do anything for PortSide.  Learning that she uses sewing machines to make her art (she brought one all the way from Vienna), we asked her to sew custom covers for us using the 1940s Singer industrial sewing machine PortSide had bought 2½ years prior but which had been buried in storage due to lack of building space. 

We lifted it up into the Captain’s Cabin, set up a space heater, and Joanna tested it and announced with joy that it is much faster than her own machine.  It was also capable of sewing through heavy fabric, unlike portable sewing machines. 

Before she got down to the business of sewing Joanna had a water adventure. Former MARY A WHALEN crew member, and man of Polish decent,  Richard Naruszewicz, gave her a tour of the harbor, seeing Red Hook from a perspective, even few New Yorkers know.

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