Everythin$ OK

Everythin$ OK is a catalog of Nedko Bucev's art on water. It includes works from 2019-2021 and is the visual part of his research on tap water contamination of the New York- New Jersey metropolitan area.

All text and images are the property of the author. Nedko Bucev ©2022 https://www.behindbetween.me nedkobucev@yahoo.com Digital printing on recycled paper Printed in the United States of America

The title of Nedko Bucev’s exhibition and thesis, Everythin$ Is OK, echoes the forcefully validat- ing tone regarding water quality found in the annual reports of numerous U.S. authorities and utilities. After Bucev found an unusually high level of lead in his tap water at his home in New Jersey, his tenacious investigation began. Instead of publishing his findings in a scientific journal, however, he explored artis- tic means to express his concerns and raise awareness among his viewers. In November 2021, visitors to the art fair 14C encountered an unusual installation at the booth hosted by the New Jersey City University Master of Fine Arts Program. A circular tank filled with water contained a live fish, while the glassware was connected to two glass tubes containing two contaminants, white lead and black manganese. The filters between those poisons and the tank, along with controlled air pressure in the system, kept the fish alive. This laboratory-like apparatus drew many visitors into our booth and made them wonder how long the fish would survive. Entitled W Like Water, this work poignantly symbolizes our natural habitats and our socio-economic system, which are both precariously balanced on the verge of collapse. The fish represents us humans on an earth with limited natural resources, the most fundamental of which is water. In his texts, Bucev asserts that “the same amount (345M mi3) [of water on the earth] has been cycling for the last 4B years,” and concludes that “those who sell, trade, and deal with it should remember that water cannot be owned, and we are allowed only to use it temporarily and return it pristinely clean.” I hope Bucev’s artistic investigations and collaborations will continue beyond his graduation and reach as broad an audience as possible. Midori Yoshimoto, Ph.D. Gallery Director/Associate Professor of Art History New Jersey City University



Jersey City 2022

Everythin$ Is OK

My work is about the water I drink, the water I take a shower in, and the water I use to make my coffee. It is about the water in my house, at my workplace, at the gym, and at the opera house or the restaurant. It is about where the freshwater in my region comes from—the nearby rivers and the industrial and mu- nicipal discharges, the stormwater runoff and water spilling over the nearby dams, the water suppliers’ treatments including settling, flotation, UV, activated carbon, and filtration—and about how it flows into my glass. It is about how government standards are neglected, how legal does not necessarily equal healthy, how the limits for contaminants in tap water have not been updated in almost twenty years, and how there is no control over the stages my water goes through. The tap water of the Hackensack region has an arsenic level that is 220 times over the healthy limit, levels of bromo/dichloromethane, chloroform, and lead that are 25, 26, and 18 times higher than recommended, respectively, and unsafe levels of eight more contaminants that, following those first four, I can’t even care about.1 All of this is in my house. All of these contaminants cause cancers of the liver, lung, bladder, and kidney.2 They also produce behavior change and aggressiveness and correlate with crime in my community.3 The arsenic and mercury ingested through water affect the brain and thus modify the learning and future lives of people in Hackensack.

The water in my glass flows through the entire Hudson Valley region before entering my home. It comes from hundreds of miles around. It starts as a small stream that flows slowly down a hill in beau- tiful meanders, enters the soil and penetrates through levels of minerals, goes upward and gets energized by the sun, and absorbs oxygen and all the nature around. It evaporates into the sky, capturing all the views of the Hudson Valley to the horizon, and then falls and flows into the Hudson River from Nyack to Lower Manhattan. It is sucked up by the treatment plant, locked in bunkers, squeezed in pipes, up-down, left-right, down-up, right-left, thousands of times, until its healthy energy is completely killed. Then it is injected with chloride and fluoride and is shot in high-pressure pipes to the dark round monster tank on top of the hill with the sign “Hackensack.” It stays there, trapped, until I turn on the tap. But before it reaches my glass, it is blinded by the lead pipes under the street and deafened by the thunder of the million cars on Road 17, absorbing the sludge of human behavior and the madness of everybody around. The water that slips into my glass from the tap is stressed, confused, and lost, maybe in the same way that I am, and all of Hackensack and all of the people living east of Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tun- nel. The art I am making can only explain one part of what is happening with the water. Maybe my work can point to those who fill my glass with sick water. Perhaps my audience can recognize who they are and stop them. Maybe who poisons the water has to do with whom we pay to cure us of its consequences. Or perhaps it is the opposite. Water is fundamental for the human body. All our vital processes depend on its quality, quantity, and timing. Water regulates the brain and blood. Emotions are mostly water, and thoughts are mostly water. Decisions are water based as well. Water with low energy, broken by a pipe in this system’s struc- ture, destroys our cells. The water we drink absorbs information, memories, and energy over millions of years. It receives, retains, and transmits information from anything it has been in contact with, including the violence, hatred, anxiety, politics, and unhappiness experienced during its two years in Hackensack. If our way of living contaminates water, water will remember it forever. I am contaminated with the lives of others through my glass of water. 22

Observations and Thoughts

1. My thoughts when writing this thesis are interrupted, without clear structure, just as is the water I drank this morning. 2. (I hear myself saying these words under the lead water shower in my house. Probably, that day, it will be in the form of a video projected on the gallery wall.) The idea of reading these obser- vations in front of an audience is boring even as I am writing them. 3. I see myself writing these words in water, giving it a chance to memorize them, and then showing the water what the thesis text memorized. 4. I wish to exhibit these works at the General Electric (GE) Company headquarters in NYC and the Seaport District of Boston, MA, where most of the water authorities reside. 5. My body contains fifteen gallons of water. I’ll call it personal water. Five gallons of my personal water are from Lake Orestiada in northern Greece. This is the lake where Zeus saw the beautiful young woman Leda and seduced her in the guise of a swan. From that act, Helen of Troy was born near- by. Another five gallons of water are from the Sea of Marmara, where Gorgona, the mermaid, fell in love with Alexander the Great. Two gallons of my personal water were sucked into my brain directly from the mausoleum of Lenin in Moscow, together with residue from Socialist Realism. The last three are from the Hudson River near the GE plants. My body has been fed with at least a few thousand years of old water. 6. Considering that water did not originate on planet Earth but came from the universe in the form of ice asteroids, and that the same amount (345 M mi3) 4 has been cycling for the last 4B years, I can speculate that in my tap water on 144 Hopper Street can be found parts of outer space, of Jesus’ baptism, of the Great Deluge, of James Watt’s steam engine, and Napoleon’s urine. Maybe I am taking a shower with the same water that Tarkovsky filmed in Stalker and using parts of heavy water. 5 Could the tap water in the glass I drank this morning have been present in the hemlock taken by Socrates and the river mentioned by Heraclitus? 6

Poetic Drops My personal water and the planet’s water are interacting, and this text is a consequence. I tried to keep my water private and clean, but as it wasn’t possible, I succeeded only in extracting these mental drops: Everything is related to water:

published at https://flippingbook.com/account/online/97166248. The Hudson River, Berry’s Creek, Bally’s Creek, and East Rutherford Meadows are water sources for my house. PCBs Travelogue documents the water pollution history of the Hudson River. I created an 18 x 5–foot drawing with sludge taken from this river at Piermont, which tests found to contain PCBs, mercury, and arsenic. Around the drawing, nine QR codes picture the contamination process from 1947 to 2021. The series Polluted Water Drawings and Polluted Water Sculptures were created with water from Barry’s Creek and Bellman’s Creek, the two most contaminated water sources in the U.S. The glass instal- lations are part of my research on the relationship between clean and polluted water. Materials and Processes The materials I use are generic: water pipes (new and corroded), glassware, polluted water, river mud, live fish, filter paper, water test strips, chemicals, water pumps, and plumbing ware. I use these materials directly or capture them in videos or photographs. The ideas behind these artworks were derived from my regular contact with water. For example, I heard a journalist talking about lead in the water in Hack- ensack on TV. Then I bought a professional water testing kit, and I recorded a test of my house water. It contained 50 times more lead than the allowable amount. As I was not confident with my tests and the Safe XXXXXXX Quality Test Kit, I sent my tap water samples to a lab. The results showed 25 times more lead than recommended. In other works, such as Androgynous Water, after I generated the idea, I researched it on the Internet. For this piece, after realizing the cause and scope of the problem, I went fishing. I experimented with several fish I caught until I found the right one. My work process requires the constant observation of and experimentation with my everyday polluted water, while my fear makes me look for proof of its safety. Google has 360M documents for “U.S. Governmental drinking water organizations.” I read some of the annual reports of the NJDEP, NJDOH, USGAO, CDC, and EPA, and they say everything is okay. However, the lead content in my house is 25 times higher than the healthy level when I test it. Generic materials related to tap water help me translate my experiences to my audience. A mag- nified photo of polluted water or of a filter with poisonous residue from a school drinking fountain

A concept in relation to water shows its identity. Beauty and water are forms of divine perfection. Water has no end or beginning, and it’s a visual expression of eternity. Water does not live or die; it is. A word about water is a word about everything. The sound of water is understandable to everyone. My visual means of expression is generated through water.

Behind and Between Next to water, I use data in my work. In my video, Lead Immunity Training, I filmed myself washing my hands. The water test on my arm shows fifty times more lead than the healthy limit.7 In My Water Bill 08.2021, I painted my water bill, which I paid last August, with paint made from lead oxide bound with a medium. The image resembles the paper copy of the bill I receive every month. I am paying to be poisoned, just like King Mithridates. I began the video project, Secret Garden, in 2020 after the Black Lives Matter protests in New York City. I found the five towns with the best water in the U.S. and the five towns with the worst according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 8 I collected water samples from these ten locations by mail and placed the same plant in ten glasses of water. I recorded the plants’ reactions for 24 days. Six plants died in the experiment, and four are still alive in their pots a year and a half later. In the last screen of the video, I show the demographics of the ten cities according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Another work, W Like Water, consists of a purification system with a water source, pollutants, filtration, and live fish as users. The system is calculated to be in balance, but a slight change in pressure, water levels, or temperature can lead to destruction. https://youtu.be/Ipk55q8uPC8

In War and Water, I researched the official records of forty years of presidential speeches from Reagan to Trump. I was interested in how many times they used the words war and water. The results are

speaks louder than a thousand words. Seeing a plant dying in slow motion from polluted tap water means more than all the state water reports. My work exposes the reality of the water crisis on a visceral level.

Mattias Lundberg is a Swedish 3D printing specialist. In collaboration with him, I made GE Water Bottle. The water bottle is in the form of a 1950s GE Hudson Falls capacitor. The project consists of designing and producing bottles, filling them with tap water from Hudson Falls, and mailing them to the GE headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York City. It is reminiscent of a corporate practice during the 1950s of rewarding GE staff and workers with capacitor souvenirs with their names on them. The bottles will remind GE about the poisoned drinking water in Hudson Falls and down the river and about the thousands of people dying of cancer caused by water pollutants. Influences on My Work Drawing on Italian Neorealism, Soviet film directors Andrei Tarkovsky in Stalker and Mirror and Sergei Parajanov in The Color of Pomegranates used moving images to make a statement about water. They utilized associative visual thinking to tell a convincing story featuring everyday subjects. In 1993, Erin Brockovich built a case against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) involving groundwater contamination in Hinkley, California. She helped 600 residents achieve a 333 M settlement with PG&E in a lawsuit that was the first of its kind. My work is a similar way of defending my ground. Marcel Duchamp and Ryan Gander both incorporated any object necessary to express their de- sired form. They used form and material as their subject matter. Luc Montagnier conducted research on water memory, which he defined as the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substances previously dissolved in it. The Soviet Communism of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the Cuban socialism of the ‘80s taught me the difference between true and not true. I was born and raised in a Soviet-type communist dictatorship where truth was a secret and every social statement was a manipulation. Laura Splan created scientific software applications in art and used generic materials and pro- cesses. Mary Mattingly made sculptural ecosystems in urban spaces as a form of community-based art. Aloïs Yang investigated perceptions of time and space related to water. Claudia Luna Fuentes also explored the relationship between people and water. Mark Lombardi created drawings that document alleged financial and political fraud by power bro- kers, and in general, “the uses and abuses of power.” These works uncover the patterns in everyday events.

Collaborators While researching for evidence of possible solutions to water contamination, I reached out to Simon Teat at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. He and the lab of Professor Jing Li at Rutgers created a crystal that removes 99% of the heavy metals from water. Using a small part of the modeling software produced by the Berkeley lab and the crystal molecule, I created digital images and video representations of the purification of the contaminated water (see https://youtu.be/iQPOyjN- 48Rc). I named the crystal Absorbsin, a compound word combining “absorbing” and “sin.” Looking for full access to the software application (named Mercury), I contacted the developer, the Cambridge Crys- tallographic Data Centre (CCDC), based in Cambridge, U.K. The IT specialists at the CCDC helped me understand how to acquire and use the software. During this process, I contacted Rutgers University and collaborated with Elizabeth Demaray, a professor of fine art. Our teamwork led to a presentation of the Absorbsin project with Simon Teat and Ever Velasco from the lab of Professor Jing Li. The scientists and I explained to the students of Professor Demaray that the LMOCf/Absorbsin functions to clean heavy metals from water. The full presentation can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQOEk- n7OADA&t=20s. It was interesting for me to explore the crystal as a structure and visualize its function. To my understanding and that of the scientists as well, we have the tools to purify and maintain water quality, but due to economic reasons (i.e., it is not profitable), it is not happening. Another collaborator in the Absorbsin project was Asegun S. Henry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He invented a method for the sonification12 of chemical structures. I sent him the crystal’s formula, C38 H22 N2 O5 Zn, and asked him to transform it into sound. Then, in collaboration with the composer Jorge Sosa, we created a musical piece representing the moment of water purification, “The Hidden Garden” (https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsYMIOfCG3s).

Conclusion Through sculpture, film, installation, and performance, I capture the impact of water contami- nation on me as a human. I ask questions about the social and political deals regarding water. My work is reminiscent of a floating puzzle or a water network with multiple connections and leaks of experience. Inside them I have positioned a set of hidden clues to be deciphered, encouraging viewers to make asso- ciations and discover the truth about the water they drink. I believe we have a deeply flawed understand- ing of the water-human relationship, sometimes because of ignorance but most frequently because of the avarice of those in power. Those who sell, trade, and deal with it should remember that water can not be owned, and we are allowed only to use it temporarily and return it pristinely clean.

1. The maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for lead is zero. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set this level

based on the best available research, which shows there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

2. National Cancer Institute. https://dceg.cancer.gov/research/what-we-study/drinking-water-contaminants.

3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3883046

4. 345,000,000 cubic miles.

5. Heavy water is H2O D2O.

6. “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus

7. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water#:~:text=E-


8. EWG is a U.S.-wide water quality watchdog. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/system.php?pws=MN1110008

9. Suez North America, founded as the Hackensack Water Company in 1869 and later named United Water, is an American

water service company headquartered in Paramus, New Jersey.

10. Lead contamination in Hackensack is 18.4 ppb (1 ppb = 1 microgram/L). The health standard for lead is 0 ppb.

11. Quotation from Luc Montagnier (Nobel Prize 2008) documentary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_teleportation

12. Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to convey information or perceptualize data.


I would like to express my gratitude to my wife and children for their love, to Mom and Dad for their inspiration, to Bergen Catholic School for their financial support, and to my professors at New Jersey City University, without whom this project would not have been possible.

W like Water, 2021 Lab glass, steel, vinyl tubes, water filters, black manganese, white lead, water pump, tap water, live fish, and gator board, 55 x 48 x 12 inches. This is a water purifying installation with a water source, filters, and clean water pool where some delicate species live. The quality of the purification depends on the balance of the system, and the process is cyclic and endless. It could be an ecosystem model, social organization, or a mixture of both. The unclean water enters at the top and there are left and right ways. The right way flows through a black control valve, and at the left side is positioned a white valve. Both valves lead to water filters. The filter stations are transparent and have double glass walls. In between them are stored toxic pigments, White Lead on the left one and Black Manganese on the right. Toxins have no contact with the purifying water because of the air pressure in the system. Filters, air in the tubes, and the toxic pigments are in perfect balance, and water flows. Inside the pool at the bottom leaves the fish. It lives in constant danger of sys- tem disruption that can kill it in seconds, but it does not understand it.

Hidden Garden, 2020 Glass, plastic, society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), tap water, and gator board, 55 x 48 x 6 inches. Hidden Garden is an experiment with plants and water. Ten regular garden plants were exposed to tap water samples from the five cities with the best and worst water quality in the United States. A time-lapse video captured the plants’ behavior over four weeks. Six plants died during the experiment, while four are still alive. The video ends with a table showing the ten cities and the demographics of their populations. This work leads to thoughts that water has memories, and that it reflects the places and people’s lives where it was collected.

Polychlorinated Biphenyl’s Travelogue, 2021 100 lb. of Arches paper roll, river sludge, and QR code app, 4.5 x 18 inches.

This is a polluted water map created in a specific place on the riverside of Nyack, New York. It resembles the natural course of the Hudson River from Hudson Falls to Manhattan. For the map, I used water and soil from that part of the river. I sent samples of the same water and soil to a professional lab in August 2021. The test results showed that the water and soil contain dangerous amounts of PCBs, mercury, lead, cadmium, sewage, urban runoff, heavy metals, pesticides, and bacteria. While researching why so many PCBs are in the Hudson, I discovered that the General Electric plant that made transformers and capac- itors poured transformer oil into Hudson Falls from 1947 to 1976 without any controls. In the journal, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, Robert Golden and his team noted that their “results provide meaningful evidence that PCBs are carcinogenic in humans.” Using the maps by Sarah Roth from Tufts University,

approved by the National Cancer Institute in 2020, I found a cause-and-effect relationship between PCBs and the cancer spreading in the counties along the Hudson River from Hudson Falls to Manhattan . Finally, after extensive public pressure and lawsuits, GE closed the plant on the Hudson River, and, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, invested around $19B in building cancer treatment centers and producing cancer-de- tecting and therapy equipment. According to Statista.com, the cancer treatment business in the U.S. was worth $184B in 2021 and is predicted to reach $273B by 2025. Through the medical insurance system, we pay the same people who “produced” the cancer patients to treat and cure them.

GE Drinking Water Bottle, 2021 Polypropylene (3D printed) and 350 ml tap Water from Hudson Falls, NY, 5.5 x 3.5 x 2.5 inches. On one of my trips to Hudson Falls, I met a retired GE worker, who told me that during his career in the plant, the company gave free bottled drinking water to its employees and their families. After the plant was closed, everyone was forced to use tap water for drinking and cooking. They knew it came from the Hudson River and was contaminated by the GE plant and the nearby paper mills, but they had no other options. In response to this story, I created a short run of water bottles. The prototype was created using a 3D printer by the Norwegian engineer Mattias Lundberg. I aim to fill the bottles with tap water from Hudson Falls and send them for free to the GE board of directors at the nearby General Electric Building on Lexington Ave. in New York City. Water from Hudson Falls contains the memory of the town and its inhabitants, and I hope that when the executives drink it, they will remember what happened in Hudson Falls, NY.

Filter, 2021 140 lb. of Arches paper, river sludge, and water test strips, 30 x 40 inches.

This is a paper filtered through polluted water. I am interested in filtering the water from different places in my community. I see filtering as a process that reveals evidence of contamination. The filter is where contamination becomes a fact and can be recognized. I suspect that filtration offers us a false sense of security about our water quality, since, according to the CDC, “No filters or treatment systems are 100% effective in removing all contaminants from water.” My questions are: Why can no filter make water completely clean? Where has the clean water gone? If filters leave the water contaminated, why should we believe in their effectiveness?

Filter (07.13.2021), 2021 Koller water filters, Hudson River water, and PCBs test, 10 x 10 inches.

Left- and Right-Hand Water Glasses, 2022 Glasses and tap water from Newark, NJ and Short Hill, NJ, 4 x 2.5 x 3.2 inches.

This artwork is about the reality of our drinking water. We do not all drink from the same glass of water, as it seems. Some drink from the bad, and others drink from the good. The drinking water in New Jersey meets 50% of the standards for completely healthy water.* This percentage is higher in some counties, while it is much lower in others. The water samples here are from two areas about 10 miles distance but a $200k income difference.

* Philadelphia Inquirer, February 11. 2022

Mithridates’s Helmet, 2021 Plastic, rubber, Styrofoam, steel, rope, and fixtures, 18 x 19 x 30 inches. 2021

Mithridates’s Helmet, 2021 Plastic, rubber, Styrofoam, steel, rope, and fixtures, 21 x 20 x 38 inches. 2021

I fabricated these helmets from materials found on the shore of the Hudson River in Hoboken exactly in front of Manhattan. The time I collected them coincides with the raising of the skyscrapers of the Hudson Yards development, which is further polluting the river. Since there are better environmental standards now than in the past but the pollution is the same or even worse, my solution is to protect ourselves from the pollution with pollution, like King Mithridates protecting himself from being poisoned through in- gesting poison.

The Lead Drinkers I and II, 2021 CPCV and PCV pipes, lead pipe, tap water, pump, wires, and silicon tubes. (I) 48 x 32 x 10 inches. (II) 44 x 45 x 32 inches. 2021

My utility company tests the water when it exits the purification plant and reports that it is healthy. The pipe system in New York and New Jersey is old and deteriorated. In towns like Hackensack, half the pipes under the streets are lead, and the water is contaminated en route before entering the houses. Rarely or never do American utility companies invest in renovating the pipe infrastructure. It does not matter what the EPA tap water standards are if the infrastructure it self is the contaminant.

Human-made water systems treat water badly not only by adding toxins, but also by using high pres- sure, reservoirs, right-angled pipes, filtering, and many other elements that function in opposition to its natural flow. In nature, water flows via gravity in slow curves in any direction, through natural minerals and open spaces with clear air. In modern city systems, the poorly treated piped water is not beneficial to health and does not inspire happiness. It only helps with survival. The quality of the water in the metro- politan area of NYC depends on the purification plants and the pipe system.

Clean Water Act, 2021 Glass, wood, and river and tap water, 37 x 11 x 11 inches.

Lead Water to Ware, 2021 Glass, gold, and lead-contaminated water from my tap, 1.2 x 1 x 0.3 inches.

In this artwork experiment, two water samples were introduced one into another. Outside is polluted water from the Hudson River and inside is water that underwent complete purification and ionization. The two samples were sealed under a glass dome. After two weeks, the purified water was tested and the results showed the presence of some contaminants found in the polluted water, and the polluted water was cleared of some of its contaminants. The two waters were connected. They “talked” to each other and exchanged contaminants through the glass.

I created this set of jewelry for my wife to protect her from lead in the tap water of our house. I hope that if she wears it, she will have immunity against lead poisoning. The pieces contain lead-poisoned water.

Water Born, 2020 Found object in the Hudson River near Hoboken in front of Manhattan, 2 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches. 2020 This object represents the natural adaptation of simple organisms to pollution. It is an example of the course of the evolution of life on earth. Similar examples are a hermaphrodite fish in the Hudson River and a sturgeon with mutated front legs. In the future, there will be organic crea- tures with plastic or rubber parts, birds with silicone feathers, and turtles with can shells.

Water Side Effects , 2022 Digital photography, dimensions variable.

Prudence Vortex, 2021 Gold presidential porcelain bowl, tap water, and plastic letters, 10 x 7 x 10 inches.

According to the American Economic Association (AES), “Governments and businesses often don’t have nearly as much incentive to keep the water clean at the points where rivers flow out of their jurisdictions.” The AES calls this political water pollution, and it categorizes it as worse than any other kind.* In Prudence Vortex, I made a water composition with a vortex, which is also a form of water purification and oxidation. I used letters made from recycled election yard signs, as well as lead-contaminated tap water. These elements interact in a piece of porcelain from a U.S. president’s inauguration. * https://www.aeaweb.org/research/why-does-water-pollution-get-worse-boundaries

Over the past years, my thesis research and art projects have had a disruptive effect on my body and mind. I started to think about every pimple and wrinkle on my skin and every hair that fell from my head. I found signs of contamination on my palms, face, and body. I am not entirely aware if these things were there before I started my research or if they are a recent de- velopment.

EIOK, 2022 Lead typeface letters, tap water, and glass, 6.5 x 8 x 4.5 inches.

Hydrant Games, 2022 White lead carbonate paint on black cardboard. Silkscreen print, edition 25, 20 x 30 inches. During the hot days of summer, children play with water from street fire hydrants, even though they are the worst sources of lead-contaminated water. Such games can be seen in New York City and across the country. A recent survey revealed that the tap water in NYC tested twenty times above the healthy limit for lead. Another study discovered that “50% of American children under the age of 6 have detectable levels of lead in their blood.”* * https://www.verywellhealth.com/children-lead-blood-levels-5205133

The contamination of water is an industry involving investors, producers, marketing agencies, the media, and money. Together, they keep the water system set in the way that creates the most profit. This system is geared toward the users, not the water. The user experience is “connect and pay.” Everythin$ Is OK.

Water Account Tattoo, 2022 3D printing with skin filaments and silkscreen printing, edition 25, 10 x 10 inches.

Exposure Table, 2022 Vinyl letters on wall, dimensions variable.

When I mapped my interactions with the tap water in my house and connected them with a line, it became a web-like structure similar to Lombardi’s. I found myself in an absurd lead/water indefinite detention. As in a detention camp, I have my number and my cell supervisor.

This is a self-explanatory table of my interactions with water. I realized that in my life, I am interacting with tap water more than with direct sunlight. If something happens to my body one day, it will probably not be because of a solar storm.

My Water Bill, 2021 White lead carbonate, orange and black lead oxide, acrylic on canvas, 26 x 24 x 5.5 inches. I have searched many times in my water bill for even slight evidence of clarity and honesty from the water provider. I tested my tap water, and it has fifty times more lead than the allowable level. Nothing about this appears in my water bill. It seems increasingly like an abstract painting.

Purifying Water with Money , 2022, work in progress, Shredded dollars from U.S. Treasury, Barry’s Creek water, and glass, 7 x 7 x 3 inches. This experiment tests how money can clean water. I am observing the interaction between water and dollar bills. I will filter out the sludge and test the water again when the experiment is finished. It is hoped that the money will have cleaned it. I envision the EPA’s 2018 $332M investment in Barry’s Creek, NJ, with which the tap water in my house is connected.* *https://archive.epa.gov/epa/newsreleases/epa-moves-forward-332-million-cleanup-berrys-creek-ber- gen-county-nj.html

Polluted Water Drawing, 2021 Digital photography of performance with tap water, dimensions variable.

Polluted Water Sculpture, 2021 Digital macro photography of drinking water from a school in New Jersey, dimensions variable.

Mercury in Tap Water, 2021 Digital photography of drawing with mercury oxide in tap water, dimensions variable. Through a series of micro photos, I explored the appearance of polluted water with heavy metals. I was curious if there is an aesthetic or other way to clean contaminated water by making it into an artwork. These micro photos of mercury in water are beautiful. They generate light and move without explanation. One can say that mercury demonizes water.

Counting 370 Years, 2022 Dimensions variable.

This work is about water pollution and time. Something was built in the past and polluted the Hudson River, and in (n) number of years, they say the fish will be edible again. Observing the dead waters of the river, I wanted to visualize what they meant for a human life seventy years ago and eighty years in the future. https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/to?iso=23200101T00&p0=179&msg=Until+the+Hud- son+riv er++water+will+be+clean&ud=1&font=serif https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/to?msg=Countdown%20Timer&p0=179&ud=1&- year=1947&month=1&day=1&hour=0&min=0&sec=0&fromtheme=vote

Androgynous Water, 2021 Video, 1:42, https://youtu.be/CZ6xQFDEE6Y

Coney Syndrome, 2021 Video, 1:32, https://youtu.be/NTgPFnw6KQ4

The video records an event that happened last summer. I was fishing in front of the GE Hudson Falls plant and caught a few small fish. The video shows the hermaphroditic changes in the fish due to PCBs and other contaminants. The fish in the Hudson River are not edible and will remain so for eighty more years.

By comparing two maps of Coney Island, I found a correlation between lead in the tap water and the crime level.

Lead Immunity Training 2021 Video, 0:46, https://youtu.be/OeDFSAwa124

Hidden Garden, 2021 Video, 7:25, https://youtu.be/XsYMIOfCG3s

To protect myself from skin cancer from the lead in my daily shower, I started training my skin with small doses of lead-contaminated water every few hours to let it build immunity, as Mithridates took poison with his food to protect himself against poisoning. This is a work in progress and has been suc- cessful thus far.

This is a twenty-four–day time-lapse video about a plant living in ten types of water with different levels of lead, mercury, and chloride contamination. The samples were sent to me from the five best water sys- tems in the country, along with the five worst. The plants in the five best waters are still alive, while the others died at different times during the twenty-four days.

Bellman’s Creek, 2021 Video, 7:10, https://youtu.be/tA_LUe_lFoU 1

Water and I, 2021 Video, 4:38, https://youtu.be/zF7Cz8LSH8s Water has been here for a long time. It will be here after the last human dies. Water will be part of the universe, while I, the human, will not.

Bellman’s Creek has a destroyed ecosystem. It is one of the two most polluted streams in the U.S., Along with Barry’s Creek in the Meadows, Rutherford. I was curious if I could find an aesthetic or other means to make people pay attention to this fact. I wish I could show this video to the people of Ridgefield who are breathing and drinking the toxins of Bellman’s Creek. One out of every ten residents of Bellman’s Creek has been diagnosed with cancer.

War and Water , 2021 Digital book, https://online.flippingbook.com/view/97166248/

Portrait of My Water Bill , 2021 Video, 13:40, https://youtu.be/K8D3FqucSzU

This book contains a list of the approximately one thousand official U.S. presidential speeches from 1980 to 2020. I counted the number of times the words war and water were used in the transcripts of speeches by Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Each president’s counts were summarized and a ratio was calculated. For example, Reagan used the word war fifteen times more than the word water, Obama fourteen times more, Bush sixteen, and Trump four.

I have frequently read my water bill, looking for even slight evidence of clarity and honesty by the water provider. When I tested my tap water, it had fifty times more lead than the allowable level, and nothing was said about this in my bill. As I look at it, it seems more and more like an abstract painting.

Solo Exhibitions

Everythin$ Is OK

2022 2018 2016 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2007 2006

NJCU Visual Arts Gallery, Jersey City, NJ La MAMA Gallery, New York City, NY

Some of the Books, Papers, Websites, and Videos Used in This Project

Water Paint

Terrace Gallery, Orlando, FL

Prey and Predators

Winter Garden Heritage Museum, Winter Garden, FL

Sunny Dreams

Gotha, FL


Windermere, FL


Water 4.0 by David Sedlak, 2018

Sound and Image Praying Hands Talks with a Flower

Gotha, FL

Comma Gallery, Orlando, FL


Cancer and the New Biology of Water by Thomas Cowan, 2019

G. Velchev Gallery, Varna, Bulgaria Performance, Sliven, Bulgaria



The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald H. Pollack, 2019

Group Exhibitions


Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell and Michelle Alexander, 2018

Reflections of the Future

2009 2008 2007

Bania Starinna, Plovdiv, Bulgaria Art in August Biennial, Varna, Bulgaria Kunstroute Festival, Gallery Windkracht 13, Den Helder, Netherlands

5. Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Robert C. Bartlett, 2013

The Line Donacia


Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry, 2018

7. “Water Quality and the End of Communism” by Hsiang-Chih Hwang, Lingnan University, 2007

Contemporary art from the Balkans


Niš Gallery, Niš, Serbia

8. “Water and Commies,” movie clip from Dr. Strangelove (4/8), 1964


2005 2005

Academy Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria City Gallery, Varna, Bulgaria

The City of Four Furies

9. Amazing Secret of Water, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTIDNa2WVkA, 2020



Water Memory, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8VyUsVOic0, 2016

Biennial of Shumen 1st Edition, Bulgaria

2004 2003 1987

Biennial Art in August , Biennial of Ljubljana ,

Bulgaria Slovenia


1996 1992

USAID Development Grant, Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, CA

Plymouth State University, Exhibition From a Moment of Truth , Karl Drerup Art Gallery, Plymouth, NH

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