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Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls Opens at Four Waterfront Locations
View today, June 26, of The New York City Waterfalls, made by Olafur Eliasson. Photo: EFE / JUSTIN LANE.

NEW YORK.- A major new work of temporary public art by internationally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson, The New York City Waterfalls, will be on display in New York City from June 26 to October 13, 2008. 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. The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) estimates that the Waterfalls, funded with private support raised by the Public Art Fund, will contribute $55 million to the City's economy.

"Public art is a signature of New York City and we are proud to welcome Olafur Eliasson's exciting new project, the Waterfalls," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Not only does public art excite and inspire New Yorkers, it helps draw visitors and adds millions of dollars into our economy. Olafur Eliasson's innovative and monumental project reflects the revitalization of our waterfront throughout the five boroughs, and I thank the Public Art Fund for bringing this unforgettable work to our City while taking steps to protect the environment."

"For 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been bringing artists and New York City together by presenting innovative art projects for all to see," said Freedman. "The New York City Waterfalls takes this tradition to a whole new level and exemplifies the institution's commitment to commissioning artists who stretch the limits of public art and forms it might take."

"The Waterfalls highlights the emphasis that our Administration places on supporting the arts and providing a platform for artists to express themselves," said Deputy Mayor Harris. "We are thrilled that artists like Olafur Eliasson choose our City as their canvas."

Conceived by Eliasson and commissioned by the Public Art Fund, The New York City Waterfalls showcases 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 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 were constructed using building elements that are ubiquitous throughout New York: scaffolding is the backbone of the structures, and pumps 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 are visible by land and boat, and because of their proximity to one another, viewers are 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, leave from Pier 16 in Manhattan and provide up-close views of the installations. The Circle Line provides free and discounted trips daily for the public. The free Governors Island Ferry, which runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the length of the project, and the Staten Island Ferry also provides views of the waterfalls at Governors Island and between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn. Recommended viewing sites and bike routes along the waterfront are 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 has designed 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."

The New York City Waterfalls provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the dramatic revitalization of the City's waterfront. Over the past six years, the City has launched a number of key initiatives to open the waterfront for public use, including several significant capital projects, such as the creation of the Harbor District and the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, and the East River Waterfront promenade in Lower Manhattan. In addition, as part of PlaNYC, the City has committed to open 90% of New York City's waterways for recreation by reducing water pollution.

The Waterfalls have been designed to be sensitive to the environment. The structures do not only protect fish, aquatic life, the river and the shoreline, but also run on "green power"—electricity generated from renewable resources—for its operations. Public Art Fund is working closely with Consolidated Edison, who provides the green energy for the project through Con Ed Solutions.

"The Waterfalls will help a new generation of New Yorkers discover our great waterfront and encourage us all to become stewards for its continued revitalization and lasting protection," said Riverkeeper President Alex Matthiessen. "The project itself is a model of green design and, importantly, is protective of key aquatic habitat."

"From buildings and transportation to cultural events and art projects, every aspect of our city has the potential to be more sustainable," said Ashok Gupta, air and energy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Through hard work and dedication, the Public Art Fund and Mayor Bloomberg have launched an environmentally-sustainable public art project that will be the standard for all similar projects moving forward."

Public Art Fund joined with City and State agencies and environmental organizations to develop resources for young people and adults to enjoy the Waterfalls. Partners include the City's Department of Education and Department of Environmental Protection, and environmental groups including Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA), New York Restoration Project (NYRP), and Urban Assembly's New York Harbor School, a public school that engages students through the study of the marine culture, history and environment of New York City and its surrounding waters. Programming includes activities for students and families that examine the waterfront through the topics of art, history, environmental responsibility, aquatic life, ecology, water conservation, and other related subjects. Art and science curriculum based on the Waterfalls will be combined and integrated into classroom lessons during the summer and fall, and will also be available for summer camp groups.

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June 27, 2008

Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls Opens at Four Waterfront Locations

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