Saturday, June 28, 2008

FAUX NATURE: "The New York City Waterfalls" by Olafur Eliasson

These images were captured from the South Street Seaport last Thursday, June 26. A major network of temporary public art by internationally renowned artist OLAFUR ELIASSON called "THE NEW YORK CITY WATERFALLS" is on display at four waterfront locations in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governors Island. The display runs through October 13. 

Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, the project consists of four monumental, man-made waterfalls installed for three months at four sites along the shores of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Governors Island: one by the Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge, one between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn, one in Lower Manhattan at Pier 35, and one on the north shore of Governors Island. The 90 to 120-foot tall installations, which have been designed to protect water quality and aquatic life, will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and will be lit after sunset, adding a striking element to New York City's iconic skyline. Conceived by Eliasson and commissioned by the Public Art Fund, The New York City Waterfalls will showcase New York City's natural environment alongside the City's industrial and commercial landscape. Sited in the historic New York Harbor, which has served as the gateway to America for nearly four centuries and a point of origin for the City's growth, the Waterfalls will introduce a breathtaking element into the heart of New York's waterfront.
"In developing The New York City Waterfalls, I have tried to work with today's complex notion of public spaces," said Eliasson. "The Waterfalls appear in the midst of the dense social, environmental, and political tissue that makes up the heart of New York City. They will give people the possibility to reconsider their relationships to the spectacular surroundings, and I hope to evoke experiences that are both individual and enhance a sense of collectivity."
Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson is considered one of his generation's most influential artists. Throughout his career, he has taken inspiration from natural elements and phenomena, such as light, wind, fog, and water, to create sculptures and installations that evoke sensory experiences. He is perhaps best known for The weather project (2003) at Tate Modern in London, a giant sun made of 200 yellow lamps, mirrors and mist that transformed the museum's massive Turbine Hall and drew over 2 million visitors during its five-month installation.
"One of Eliasson's great strengths as an artist is his ability to captivate viewers, which he will do by integrating the spectacular beauty of nature into the urban landscape on a dramatic scale," said Steiner, curator of The New York City Waterfalls.
Eliasson's work often involves industrial materials that, when brought together, create dramatic installations that are as beautiful as they are unexpected. The New York City Waterfalls will be constructed using building elements that are ubiquitous throughout New York: scaffolding is the backbone of the structures, and pumps will bring water from the East River to the top; the water then falls from heights of 90 to 120 feet back into the river. Fish and aquatic life are protected by filtering the water through intake pools suspended in the river. To build the Waterfalls, Public Art Fund has partnered with Tishman Construction Corporation and has engaged a team of design, engineering and construction professionals.
The New York City Waterfalls will be visible by land and boat, and because of their proximity to one another, viewers will be able to see multiple waterfalls from various vantage points in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governors Island. Dedicated boat journeys to view the Waterfalls, organized by the Public Art Fund in partnership with Circle Line Downtown, will leave from Pier 16 in Manhattan and will provide up-close views of the installations. The Circle Line will provide free and discounted trips daily for the public. The free Governors Island Ferry, which will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the length of the project, and the Staten Island Ferry will also provide views of the waterfalls at Governors Island and between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn. Recommended viewing sites and bike routes along the waterfront will be made available on free maps provided on the Waterfalls website,, and distributed throughout the City. The New York City Waterfalls is an example of the Administration's continuing commitment to cultural life and support of public art as a way to highlight the vitality of the City. To maximize Waterfalls-based tourism, NYC & Company is designing a marketing plan to attract visitors from around the world to New York to view the project.
"Being home to extraordinary artists and visionary cultural organizations is central to New York City's identity," said Commissioner Levin. "Together, Olafur Eliasson and the Public Art Fund are helping us reconsider how we perceive familiar spaces, and the Waterfalls offers an opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore anew the City's rich natural and cultural landscapes."

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