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Junkopia: Mudflat sculpture film surfaces on Youtube

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The publishing of the NY Times article Once Upon a Landscape profiling Brooklyn artist and Berkeley native Carol Bove led me to this 1982 archive titled “Rubbish lives for a time as a sculpture” detailing the infamous Emeryville mudflat sculptures.

A 25-foot wheelchair, erected by a group of handicapped sculptors; a quarterback preparing to throw a pass; a Jesus on a cross; a sailing ship; a dragon; a cake announcing ‘Steve Loves Susan’; a notice for a tall people’s convention; and a sign that says ‘Make Art, Not Ads.

Bove once helped a friend of her father’s build a fish-shaped junk sculpture on the mud flats and it apparently inspired her to pursue this “guerrilla” form of art-making as a career.“It was a Surrealist tableau of a pretty weird kind,” recalls Bove in the Times article “Coming to that as a kid opened a huge channel for me about what art in public could be.” The article goes on to describe the mudflats as a “guerrilla art park that free-spirited sculptors kept alive and weird for decades beginning in the 1960s”

The article also links to the short film JUNKOPIA by french avant-garde filmmaker Chris Marker. Filmed in 1981, it recently became available on The Criterion Collection’s YouTube Channel. Marker, who passed away last year at the age of 91, also apparently scored the eerie 6:22 minute film under an alias. Co-directed by Frank Simeone and John Chapman, JUNKOPIA was filmed while Marker was also shooting the Vertigo sections of another one of his films, “Sans Soleil“. The internet has unearthed many photographs of these E’ville treasures but this is the first video I’ve seen surface and it’s a fascinating look at Emeryville’s past.

Carol Bove on the High Line with a partly installed piece, “Cow Watched by Argus.”

Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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