6. Dazzle Boat from Public Art Fund

Photo by Nicholas Knight courtesy of Public Art Fund

Flow Separation by New York artist Tauba Auerbach is a piece that converts the historic Fireboat John J. Harvey into what the Public Art Fund calls a “contemporary dazzle ship.” The concept of the “dazzle ship” dates back to World War I, when British painter Norman Wilkinson came up with the idea to strategically paint war ships in a way that created optical illusions that distorted the forms of the boats. Thus, they puzzled the soldiers on enemy ships who struggled to track the movements of the British ships.

2018 marks the anniversary of the end of World War I, and Auerbach’s installation prompts us to reflect upon this history. The piece evokes themes of innovation and abstraction, for Auerbach was inspired by the forms of objects as they move through water. She employed the method of transferring ink on water onto paper to achieve the pattern on the display boat.

Flow Separation will be on view through May 12, 2019. The initial set of free boat trips sold out quickly but the Public Art Fund is now releasing tickets on upcoming Tuesdays for various dates through October  tickets can be purchased on the Public Art Fund website. You can also keep an eye on the fireboat’s calendar to see when registration for future rides open up.

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