Floating concrete art project sinks in Lake Superior

Last week, a floating concrete sphere sank in the Duluth harbor on Lake Superior. That’s weird. But it gets much weirder.

The concrete sphere was an art project by Minneapolis artist Sean Connaughty called the “Ark of the Anthropocene,” a hollow, floating terrarium of plant life. One is welcome to their own interpretations of the piece — it is art after all — but mine is that the dull, gray, implausibly floating concrete is a symbol of humanity’s eventual self-defeat and the plant life within a sprig of hope that will endure beyond the end of our species.

Anyway, the Ark of the Anthropocene sank in Lake Superior last Thursday, requiring an overnight rescue from trained divers. At fault, according to this story by the Duluth News Tribune, was damage to the ark’s hull caused by how it was lifted into the water. Connaughty seemed to take the misfortune in stride, posting pictures of what he calls the “Wreck of the Ark of the Anthropocene” on his social media profile.

My dad works maintenance at a college. He’s a fixer; solves mechanical problems of all kinds. No one gives him fits quite like the art people. Always some impossibly futile task involving more physical labor than the operation of all the campus boilers and air handlers put together. Let it be said: art is hard work. Let it also be said: art is often harder work than is necessary.

Connaughty is going to float the ark again, though probably not on Lake Superior. In a strange way, however, this tale of the Ark is probably more poetic than even the most optimistic of original intentions.

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