One of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century was the reversal of the Chicago River. The city’s sewage flowed into the river, which flowed into Lake Michigan, the primary source of drinking water. A series of locks were created to raise the level of the water above both the lake and the river, causing the river to flow in reverse. The engineering project improved the city's water at the expense of all the towns downstream. In the course of growth and industrialization of Chicago, the towns downstream withered to death.

One tributary, the Illinois River, is now the site of the largest, grassroots initiative to eradicate the growing population of invasive carp. The Redneck Fishing Tournament was started in 2006 by local bartender, Betty deFord. For the town of about 400 people, this annual event is the primary economic activity for the entire year. In 2016, I traveled to Bath, IL to compete in the tournament, bring with me a wearable sculpture. I filmed the footage in 3D. My intention was not only to compete but to bring some of the invasive carp back to New York in an attempt to remediate soil polluted from industrial waste. This video is part a broader project entitled “Illinois River Project.”

Louisiana fish farmers introduced four species of carp, collectively referred to as “Asian carp,” with the intention that the fish would improve the water quality of their ponds. Carp eat both suspended solids and phytoplankton. In Asia, the carp is a central fish in many regional cuisines.

However, when the Louisiana watershed flooded, the carp escaped the farms and have spread throughout waterways in North America. Boaters are irritated by the fish because of its proclivity to leap three to four feet from the water as boats pass by. Weighing around ten pounds, jumping carp can cause serious injuries to boaters. Fisherman hate the Asian carp because local fish, such as bass, which demand higher pay rates, are gone from waters as their food have been consumed by the invasive species.

Carp instinctively swim against the current. And because the Chicago River was reversed at the beginning of the 20th Century, they swim upstream, toward the Great Lakes. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Department of the Interior, fear the invasive carp have spread up the Illinois River into the Chicago River and threaten to damage the biodiversity of the Great Lakes.




10. Redneck Fishing Tournament 3D, 3D video, color, 30 minutes, 2019