Did you know that the highest elevation in Niagara County – at 699 feet above sea level – is Sanitary Landfill No. VI? The dumping ground (the site of Cecos International, Inc.) was first “built” in the late 1800s. It sits smack in-between the Town of Niagara and the City of Niagara Falls. Altogether, there are 12 landfills on the site – Sanitary Landfill No. VI was added in the 1980s.
In order to draw attention to human consumption, toxic waste, etc., the work of New York environmental artist Chantal Calato will be featured at an upcoming BOX Gallery with her 14′ installation titled Mount Cecos. The tabletop sculpture has been constructed to look just like the real landfill – Calato used real garbage and tens of thousands of blades of painted, synthetic grass to recreate the miniature version of the landfill. In order to add as many realistic effects as possible, the artist constructed the landfill on top of an old sink that had been used to process photos with chemicals. Drain pipes protrude from the bottom of the sink, which are meant to signify the leaching of chemicals, waste (and accompanying smells) that seep into the surrounding land and communities, according to Calato.
Cecos manages on-site hazardous waste cleanup designated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The locals in Niagara Falls call the landfill, Mount CECOS because it can be seen from locations in the city including schools, the outlet mall, golf course, and the grocery store. It has slowly started to define the city,” said Calato. “Cecos International, Inc. isn’t your typical landfill because it’s where thousands of tons of hazardous waste from ‘Superfund’ cleanups are dumped. And in recent years the landfill has been emitting a toxic odor that carries through the community. I wanted to spotlight the unchecked management and contamination of these landfills on our environment.”
It is interesting to note that Calato grew up in Niagara Falls, near the still-controversial environmental disaster Love Canal. The environmentally hazardous circumstances surrounding Love Canal are what spur her to create her eco-minded multimedia installations. It is the “mutilation that humans have caused to our environment” along with the secrecy and cover-ups that drive Calato towards the creation and showcasing of her works.
You can follow Calato and her work by visiting her website.
Mount Cecos – a tabletop version of a landfill – at BOX Gallery
June 8, 2019
The exhibition will run from June 8 – July 21, 2019
BOX Gallery 667 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14203
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Image credits: Chantal Calato