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Mayor Bloomberg And Public Art Fund Launch The New York City Waterfalls

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Public Art Fund President Susan K. Freedman, and artist Olafur Eliasson today launched The New York City Waterfalls, a major work of public art that will be on display through October 13, 2008. The exhibition of four man-made waterfalls of monumental scale are on view on the shores of the New York waterfront: one on the Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge; one on the Brooklyn Piers, between Piers 4 and 5 near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade; one in Lower Manhattan at Pier 35 north of the Manhattan Bridge; and one on the north shore of Governors Island. The Waterfalls, which have been designed to protect water quality and aquatic life, will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays and Thursdays, when they will run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Waterfalls will be lit after sunset. 

“The Waterfalls are an unbelievable sight: four cascades ranging in height from 90 to 120 feet rising out of New York Harbor,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “And what a beautiful symbol of the energy and vitality that we are bringing back to our waterfront in all five boroughs. Congratulations to Olafur Eliasson, the Public Art Fund and the many City, State and Federal agencies, and partners who played a role in bringing us to this momentous occasion.”

“For over 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been presenting art projects in New York City’s public spaces,” said Susan K. Freedman, President of the Public Art Fund. “By commissioning Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls, we are redefining public art as a vital force in the city and encouraging people to stop and look at their surroundings in a whole new way.”

“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.”

The Public Art Fund, working in partnership with Tishman Construction Corporation, engaged a team of almost 200 design, engineering and construction professionals to build the Waterfalls. Construction scaffolding forms the backbone of the Waterfalls, and pumps cycle water from the East River to the top of each structure before it falls back into the River. Following the de-installation of the project in October, 90% of all the materials used to build The New York City Waterfalls will be re-used in subsequent construction projects.

The Waterfalls have been designed to be sensitive to the environment and include: elements that protect fish and aquatic life, energy efficient LED lights, and energy purchased from renewable sources. The Waterfalls will be temporarily turned off in the event of extreme winds or storms, or if there is a power shortage due to hot weather.

About the Artist

Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967, and grew up in both Iceland and Denmark. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and currently divides his time between his family home in Copenhagen and his studio in Berlin. Studio Olafur Eliasson is a laboratory for spatial research that employs a team of 30 architects, engineers, craftsmen, and assistants who work together to conceptualize, test, engineer, and construct installations, sculptures, large-scale projects and commissions. 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. His work is currently the subject of a major mid-career retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, on view through June 30, 2009.

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