Wasted at Nautical Waste in Rome.

Ready to get the party started: Artist Marie Lorenz Holds Fast at the American Academy in Rome. (Photos by San Suzie.)

Just after Thanksgiving, we were fortunate to attend the first international celebration of Nautical Waste, the smelliest art concept party — or any party, for that matter — we’ve ever been to. There was a sculpture made of rotting mussels and other sea detritus. (Pungent!) And the whole party ended with a re-enactment of the Roman sea victory at the Battle of Mylae…in a fountain.

Now in its sixth year, Nautical Waste is an annual seafaring celebration that takes place on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving. Started in Brooklyn by artists Marie Lorenz, the creator of the New York Tide and Current Taxi, Matt Lorenz and Melissa Brown, the event is part performance, part exhibit, and a great excuse to trawl your local coastline for stinky crap — then spend an evening building stuff with it while drinking grog, quoting Melville and wearing a pirate’s hat. This year the flotsam and jetsam washed up in three separate venues: Brooklyn, Banff, and the American Academy in Rome, where Lorenz is a fellow in the visual arts.

Stay tuned for more waterlogged adventures, because next spring, we will accompany Lorenz down the Tiber in a homemade boat, hopefully after getting nautically wasted.

Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.

Ready to get grogged: This succulent vintage was produced by a Roman wine seller who sells his fine products out of vats.

Grog ‘n vessels: The two ships, in the back, lay ready to re-enact the Battle of Mylae.

The party gets started: Sailors and pirates in attendance! Stinky sculptures in the foreground.

Getting Melville: Crazy academics go postal about great white whales.

The party’s much-discussed cetacean: The Great Plastic Whale.

Things really got interesting when members of the Spanish Academy showed up with their own armada of wine bottles.

Avast, ye scurvy dogs: There were Caribbean pirates and Indian Ocean pirates.

Photographer and Rome Prize Fellow Matthew Monteith came dressed as that vortex in the Pacific where all the world’s plastic ends up.

After much grog was consumed, Rome Prize fellows  (a.k.a. the Romans and the Carthaginians) get ready to do battle on the high seas — a.k.a. the American Academy’s courtyard fountain.

Naval battle in progress: Duilius giving Hannibal a one-handed ass-whooping.

The aftermath: Time to retreat. And drink more grog.


  1. Ruby

    We had a great plastic whale in my classroom in 5th grade. We could sit in it and read. I remember it being pretty awesome, but in adult hindsight, we should have had grog.

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