Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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11 / The Urban Experience

The New York City Waterfalls
The New York City Waterfalls
Artist / Origin Olafur Eliasson (Danish, b. 1967)
Region: North America
Date 2008
Material Scaffolding and piping
Dimensions H: 90–120 ft. (27.4–36.6 m.)
Location New York, NY (temporary installation)
Credit © Alan Schein Photography/CORBIS

expert perspective

Anne PasternakPresident and Artistic Director, Creative Time

The New York City Waterfalls

» Olafur Eliasson (Danish, b. 1967)

expert perspective

Anne Pasternak Anne Pasternak President and Artistic Director, Creative Time

A project like that Olafur’s waterfalls exists for a number of reasons. Number one because an artist has something to say, wants to actually communicate with, actually with, lots and lots of people and to ignite their imagination and maybe spark some curiosity in them. So, public art also tells people that they matter; that they’re worth having these interesting engagements with and that there are moments that are being brought to them, to delight them, to provoke them, to get them to talk to one another. Those kinds of basic interactions within a city are important. And at a time period in our culture, especially American culture, where everything is so much a focus on the individual, we’re online, we’re in front of our television sets, we wear our head phones, we are on our cell phones—we’re not so good at engaging and having a sense of community all of the time. And so art in the public realm really helps us get to know one another and to remember that we are a part of a larger social fabric.

Olafur’s waterfalls brought you to Governors Island, Lower Manhattan, Lower East Side, South Street Sea Port, Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights—it encouraged vantage points and flow throughout all these very different neighborhoods in New York City and that was really quite unique and I think it’s wonderful when people move outside of their neighborhood and their work place and they connect to other places. Public art is an opportunity to explore different neighborhoods in parts of the city and get to know folks.” 

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