“Black Atlantic” is a new outdoor public art exhibit that has just moved to three piers in Brooklyn Bridge Park and explores the concept of black identity in the United States today.
On view until November 27, the show is made up of five giant sculptures installed throughout the park.
“‘Black Atlantic’ will illustrate a counterpoint to a monolithic perception of blackness, and reflect the myriad ways individuals can create a new vision within the context of American culture that is expansive, malleable, and open to all,” said artist and co-curator Hugh Hayden in an official statement about the exhibition.
Hayden’s work, nicknamed The Gulf Streamis a rowboat that appears to be washed up on the shore, but which actually contains a “sculptural carcass”.
On the elbows, by Dozie Kanu, on the other hand, is a concrete lounge chair that sits on Texas Wire Wheels and is meant to look like a slab car. You will also notice a container filled with black liquid next to it. This material “pulses to the rhythm of a heartbeat, suggesting the processes of the unconscious”.
Also on display is a piece by Leilah Babirye nicknamed Agali Awamu (Ensemble) and consisting of two groups of totemic sculptures made of three hollowed-out trunks decorated with welded metal and jewelry-like objects. According to the press release, “These monumental totemic figures come together to represent a chosen, queer family, whose visibility in public space is a beacon of empowerment.”
Then you have the work of Tau Lewis integrated into the landscape adjacent to Pier 2 and the Greenway. You’ll notice three six-foot-wide iron discs with detailed surfaces created by a sand-casting process. “As if they were fossilized and preserved in the Atlantic for millions of years, the group ruminates on the wandering of the ancient marine animal, the dispersal of its fossils and its coexistence with black bodies throughout the diaspora” , we read in the press release. “Each disc acts as a visual poem or map, gazing at the ocean as boundless black geography and telling the stories rooted in the crinoid.”
The fifth work on display is by Newark native Kiyan Williams. Empire Ruins actually reimagines the Statue of Liberty that currently sits atop the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. The original monument was actually built by slaves and this one consists of a bronze statue and in platinum which seems rotten and sinks on the ground.
The location chosen for installation is also not random. In fact, the riparian area once served as a network between the United States and the continents of Africa and Europe.
“black atlantic—titled after the book by Paul Gilroy—explores these connections and sheds light on the complex identities that have developed through the exchange of culture and ideas over the centuries along the transatlantic routes,” the statement reads. Press.
If intense artwork makes you crave the same even more, consider browsing our list of the best outdoor artwork in New York available this summer.