Art at the BlueLine, an outdoor multimedia art exhibition, marked the opening of the 13th annual celebration of City of Water Day in the Seaport district on Saturday. Organized by the Waterfront Alliance and named after the demarcation line that marks how far inland high tides will reach by 2100, Art at the BlueLine features diverse artworks from award-winning climate artists Justin Brice Guariglia, Kamau Ware and Sarah Cameron Sunde to highlight the threat of sea level rise and coastal flooding.

“This year finds us in a very different place—struggling against the tide of a global pandemic and once again acutely aware of the vulnerability of our region to the unpredictable and catastrophic,” said Cortney Worrall, President of the Waterfront Alliance, in a press statement. “We must prepare our region for climate change—to protect the homes and businesses, the physical and cultural infrastructure that makes our region unique and helps ensure the safety and well-being of our residents.”

We are the Asteroid by Justin brice GuarigliaJustin Brice Guariglia’s solar-powered LED warnings flash on the streets

One of the artists at City of Water Day, Justin Brice Guariglia, utilized sandblasted solar-powered LED highway signs, typically used by construction workers, in his installation “We Are the Asteroid II.” The signs echo his messages on climate change to the passer-bys, and the messages were written by Timothy Morton, a professor at Rice University, who employs poetry, metaphors and humor to challenge the viewers to think ecologically about conversations surrounding the environment. One that cycles through says, “Warning: High CO2.” Guariglia first showcased this concept two years ago in New York in an installation entitled Climate Signals, with various LED highways signs placed all over the five boroughs — one of our favorites said “No Icebergs Ahead.”

Another artist, Kamau Ware, a visual storyteller, aligned himself with the ongoing racial social justice movement in the country in the work “Waves,” a composition of four flags symbolizing the connection between the Indigenous people of New York and the Africans from the Congo and Angola in the 17th century on the island of Manhattan, to illustrate his messages of resilience and highlight the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Indigenous people.

Photo of Ware's Art Installation“Waves” explore how people of color have been erased from the local history. Photo by Ian Douglas.

At the southernmost Manhattan waterfront of the East River is “36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea,” a large-scale video installation that features nine site-specific performance and video works in locations around the world threatened by rising sea levels, from the Netherlands to Bangladesh. Started in 2013 by Sarah Cameron Sunde, the multi-channel videos will be projected onto outdoor walls and the Tall Ship Wavertree at South Street Seaport Museum on four nights (September 12, 17, 25 and 26) from 7 PM to 10:30 PM. The locations are designed to allow viewers to imagine themselves standing in the water, which Ms. Sunde did for 12 hours and 48 minutes in response to Hurricane Sandy. Viewers also have the option to type their responses using a typewriter to questions and prompts about resilience and climate change.

Photo of Sunde's Art Installation“36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea” started out as a poetic response to Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Art at the BlueLine is a free and socially distanced event that runs until September 27 for Climate Week NYC. Next, check out our behind-the-scenes look at the Wavertree ship, a cargo ship built in 1885 and has a historical connection to New York City.

Join us for our next tour of Lower Manhattan looking at the Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam. All of our in-person tours have small groups, state-of-the-art radio ear pieces for safe social distancing, and more health & safety measures.

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