February 22, 2023 – February 26, 2023
Sniffing around Bog Hollow Pond in Wassaic, and Thompson Pond in Pine Plains, two circumneutral bog lakes in Dutchess County, NY. Making a sludgy brew, pulling paper, finessing design, testing scent-holding media for Ensayos’ contribution to “Turba Tol Hol-Hol the Book.”
Ensayos supported Turba Tol Hol-Hol Tol, the Chilean pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, with a smellscape–olfactory gifts from peatlands in North America, Norway and Australia. “Turba Tol Hol-Hol the Book” will launch in 2023, and Ensayos pods from the Americas, Norway and Australia are creating limited edition olfactory inserts so that readers can experience the multisensory dimension of peatlands.
Our research into peatlands in the area surrounding Amenia, NY (where Ensayista Christy Gast is based) indicated that they have often been illegally mined, inundated due to dams, or are little-known locally. Both the scent that agustine created to send to Venice, and the inserts we are making for the book, reflect this complexity.
Circumneutral bog ponds are rare in the region, but have been documented by Hudsonia, a nonprofit organization whose work aims to protect the ecological heritage of the region. Hudsonia’s report on the habitats of Amenia identifies two circumneutral bog lakes within the town (Bog Hollow Pond and Swift Pond). Bog Hollow is a large wetland complex near the town’s eastern border with Connecticut. There is an excellent description of circumneutral bog lakes, and of Bog Hollow Pond, on page 59 of Hudsonia’s “Significant Habitats in the Town of Amenia” report.
Bog Hollow Pond and Thompson Pond in Pine Plains (described on page 59 of the Pine Plains Hudsonia report) both occur on the western slopes of small mountains. Bog Hollow Pond is on private property with part of the shore accessible from the road, and Thompson Pond is part of a nature preserve and is ringed by a walking path. We found at least two varieties of Sphagnum growing at Thompson Pond, which looked similar to the chunky Sphagnum palustre and more fine Sphagnum fallax cultivated in the SphagnumLAB part of the project in Venice.
In the studio, we finalized the ingredient list for the paper blotters that will be included in the book insert: water from Bog Hollow Pond, cotton recycled from Sappho Room bedsheets, phragmites (native to European peatlands but invasive in the U.S. and choking Amenia’s wetlands) and a preciously small amount of Sphagnum moss.
As Christy pulled the paper sheets, agustine experimented with various decoctions of the scent to determine what would be best suitable to the blotter paper. agustine adjusted the design so that each insert will contain a small glassine envelope with a scented bog paper blotter, and we tore the paper to fit.
agustine zegers / Christy Gast
Thanks to the Sappho Room residency and the Wassaic Project; funding from an Adjunct Faculty Grant for research/creative work from Virginia Commonwealth University Arts and a New York State Council on the Arts Artist Support Grant
–photos by agustine zegers, Penelope Gong & Christy Gast