ixia: public art think tank

ixia has taken over the ownership and management of Public Art Online from Arts Council England. The design and content of the website are currently being reviewed.

Bookmark and Share

New York City Waterfalls, Olafur Eliasson

Date uploaded: February 3, 2009

Olafur Eliasson’s $15.5 million set of four waterfalls spead along New York Harbour opened in January 2008. Officials billed “Waterfalls” as the city’s grandest public art commission since Christo and Jeanne-Claude flooded Central Park with saffron-coloured fabric panels for “The Gates” in 2005.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Waterfalls were a ; “symbol of the energy and vitality that we have been bringing back to our waterfront in all five boroughs.”

The waterfalls were turned on every day from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. After sunset, the waterfalls were illuminated by light-emitting diodes.

The four waterfalls, 90 to 120 feet tall, churned 35,000 gallons of water per minute, or 2.1 million gallons per hour. The water first went through mesh-covered “filter intake pools” to ensure that fish and larvae were not pulled into the pumps or harmed.

Mr. Bloomberg called the project ; “a triumph of human imagination and mechanical engineering,” and a reminder that;  “New York Cityis a place where big ideas can be realized.”

Susan K. Freedman, president of the Public Art Fund, which commissioned the project, said Waterfalls was;  “the most ambitious project the Public Art Fund has ever undertaken.”

She said the project would; “open up new ways for the public to experience art and public space, and in turn the city itself.”

Olafur Eliasson, said; “It’s about the public space and it’s not about me. I’m happy to be here today and this is the moment where I say it’s not my work of art anymore, it’s your work of art. … This piece of art is now a part of the city. It belongs to the people of the city.”

The project, he said:

 “…raised the question of to what extent do we actually see a space, or a city space such as the waterfront, as dynamic? You could say that commercial space or commodified spaces are more about consuming or a systematized way of getting involved in a space.

This is different. This is not about consuming space. This is about using a space to evaluate your relationship with it. That’s a whole different kind of dynamic space and I see, in terms of our city and the waterfall, a great potential.Water has this fantastic ability to be everything for everybody.”  

Eliasson, 41, a Danish-Icelandic artist is known for using colour, lights, mirrors and natural materials to immerse viewers in sensory-challenging environments.

The Public Art Fund, a nonprofit group begun in 1977 that installs contemporary works in the city, commissioned the project. Planning began in March 2006, and construction of the concrete and metal scaffolds began in March 2008.

Follow this link to view more images of Waterfalls on the New York Times website

Photo: Vincent Laforet for The New York Times

Photo: Vincent Laforet for The New York Times