Waterfalls in the East River

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A Danish-Icelandic artist by the name of Olafur Eliasson will be bringing a series of freestanding waterfalls to the East River in NYC’s biggest public art project since “The Gates” took over Central Park for 16 days in February 2005.  The waterfalls are reported to rise about 60-70 feet above the water (more than half as high as the Brooklyn Bridge) and will be clearly visible from the South Street Seaport, Brooklyn Heights, and the Governors Island Ferry.  The timeline is still undecided, but expect an announcement from Mayor Bloomberg sometime soon.

The project is estimated to cost between $9-11 million which is a drop in the bucket in comparison to what its expected to bring to the city.  The NYC Economic Development Corp. estimated that “The Gates” attracted 1.5 million out-of-town visitors and generated $254 million in economic activity for the city (the $20 million price tag was financed entirely by the artists).

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Eliasson is famous for creating “immersive environments that take their inspiration from nature and play tricks with viewers’ perceptions.”   Waterfalls have always been an interest of his due to their presence in the landscape of his native Iceland.  A 1998 piece called “Reversed Waterfall” will be on display at P.S.1.  This exhibit uses a system of pumps and basins to send water jetting uphill.  He has also created a 20-foot outdoor waterfall as part of an exhibition at Dundee University in Scotland (not named after Crocodile).

In addition to waterfall-related pieces, Eliasson created “The Weather Project,” which used mist, mirrors and 200 monofilament light bulbs to create an image of a glowing sun.  In 2000 he created “Green River,” in which he poured nontoxic dye into a river in Stockholm, which turned it green (like St. Patty’s Day in Chicago).  In 1993 he created a rainbow in a gallery by projecting light across a fine mist of water in a piece title “Beauty.”

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