On one hand, the New View-Camden exhibit is about massive and visually stunning works of art while, on the other, it’s about some of the most expensive “no dumping” signs ever conceived. Above, the 17-foot-high robot, Mechan 11: The Collector, is one of six huge artworks installed across the city as part of a program designed to deter illegal dumpers who jettison tons of construction and demolition debris in Camden’s vacant lots.
A better understanding of the scope and profitability of these criminal dumping activities can be found in the fact that the city of Camden spends $4 million annually to clean up and legally dispose of the industrial debris that blights its neighborhoods.
The idea to turn some of the city’s most notorious bootleg dumping grounds into art venues was the brainchild of a consortium composed of officials from the City, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, and the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. Their proposal was selected out of 200 submitted to a philanthropic organization created by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that provides grants for temporary urban exhibits that address civic issues with public art.
Funded with a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, New View-Camden kicked off on Earth Day 2021 and will run for six months. It criss-crosses the city with six massive sculptural projects, along with pod parks for picnics, little free library sites, small playgrounds, photo projects, and other art-related events and programming.