Sunday, June 29, 2008

Waterfalls Along the East River, New York City

This is kind of cool. I love big public art projects.

From Weekend America.
If you are walking this weekend along the East River in New York City, you might notice something different: waterfalls. There are four of them as you head downstream. They range from 90 to 120 feet tall, and are made of more than 270 tons of scaffolding. One is underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

It's New York's largest public art project since Cristo's "The Gates" two years ago in Central Park. At dawn on Thursday, the waterfalls just turned on -- no crowds, no ribbon-cutting.

This weekend, many folks are taking them in for the first time. We wanted to get a taste of their reactions. But first we spoke with the artist himself:

Olafur Eliasson: My name is Olafur Eliasson. I am the artist who created the waterfalls here in New York.

I wanted to integrate the water into the city. I didn't want to create a feeling that the waterfall just kind of flew in and was dropped on a neutral platform like a pedestal. So that's why I worked a bit on finding these four sites, which would have a kind of a narrative or an individual story of sort.

The space around the Lower Manhattan -- between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan and Governors Island -- that space has a history of being kind of looked across. Nobody would look at that space as a kind of positive space. Everyone looks across it and takes it for granted, almost.

When I saw a boat going through the river, and when I looked at the water, essentially, I realized that one of the elements that would add depth to this space -- one of the elements that would take it away from being a representation or a picture and make it actually three-dimensional, make it something that would take time to engage in -- is the time it takes for the water to run.

I look at it as a project, and a project is obviously like a dialogue. I say something, and then the city says something back, then I say something, or somebody else takes part in that dialogue. So I don't think that permanence or leaving the waterfalls up is necessarily any better.

Read the rest of the interview. There's also a podcast of the interview at the site. And here is the New York Post story about the waterfall installations.

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