Friday, August 22, 2008

The Waterfalls

Okay, so maybe Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls really does pale in comparison with those "saffron" Gates of some years back. That doesn't mean one can't get something out of them. And just like The Gates got people to explore a somewhat untrafficked zone of New York City (Central Park in the winter), so can The Waterfalls get people to do very much the same thing.

So far I've gotten the most out of viewing The Waterfalls from two "unusual" vantage points. One is Governors Island, which has been a wonderful "must-see" weekend destination throughout this summer. From Governors Island you can see one waterfall up close (left) and also view all four in roughly one glance, appreciating the different ways the water appears to flow.

That was good, but I have to say that the entire Governors Island experience overshadowed the Waterfalls experience. My very favorite Waterfalls experience so far—something that compared favorably with The Gates—involved walking downtown on a hot night. BAT (and GFNYC) fan Ellen and I ambled through Chinatown and discovered a street fair, some dark and mysterious alleyways, and a crowd of women doing a kind of Asian "alley cat" dance in a public park as we wandered to the shore of the East River by the Manhattan Bridge. Once we got to the walkway, we joined a smattering of people including fishers (no relation) chilling out in view of some of the waterfalls, which were illuminated and fascinating to behold. Suddenly, the work made a lot more sense to me. Eliasson is, after all, known for his use of artificial light, which was fully in play around 9pm—though not at each waterfall. (And, if you are unthrilled by the industrial look of the structures, you'll be pleased to find that they are less visible at night.)

Give the Chinatown walk and East River vantage point a try, especially if there are any more steamy nights left before The Waterfalls runs dry on October 13. And try to take advantage of the visiting hours at Governors Island, too.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

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