As the story goes, a teenager visiting a Florida tourist trap bought a baby alligator and flushed it down the toilet. Months later, it emerged from the sewers, as big as a school bus, to stalk unsuspecting humans.
Well, Lloyd Goradesky's gargantuan Gator in the Bay was never dropped into the john, but the football-field-length floating reptile is set to prowl the waters off the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island when Art Basel in Miami Beach rips into town December 5 through 8.
It's one of the first public art projects announced for this year's monster art fair and also one of the strangest -- just the kind of thing to augment the Magic City's reputation as a mecca for artistic lunacy.
"I've been photographing wildlife in the Everglades for more than two decades," Goradesky says. "When someone approached me a few years back and offered me the barge to use during Basel, that was how this project got its start."
The floating gator is intended to raise awareness of the fragile nature of the Florida Everglades and reflect the cooperation between industry and the local environment. Goradesky explains he chose the iconic reptile for his Basel opus because the creature is a barometer of our ecological health.
With a head that towers as high as a three-story condo, the gator will have a massive maw built around the boom of a crane that will snap open and closed. The skull, created from steel and recycled materials, will be a sculpture that stands on a barge.
The body will consist of 102 tiles, each four feet wide and eight feet long, made of highly buoyant material Goradesky calls "floating art tile."
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Each of the 102 sections of the animal's body will be emblazoned with 5,000 unique, postage-stamp-size images that will create the illusion of an alligator when seen from afar. "I used more than 100,000 digital images I shot in the Everglades for the gator's body," Goradesky says. "It's one of the largest photo mosaics ever created in the world. If you look closely at the images, you'll see turtles mating, otters eating fish, and panthers taking a shit."