"Black Atlantic" is a new outdoor public art exhibit that has just taken residence across three piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park and explores the concept of Black identity in the United States of today.
On view through November 27, the show is comprised of five giant sculptures installed throughout the park.
"'Black Atlantic' will illustrate a counterpoint to a monolithic perception of Blackness, and is reflective of the multitude of ways in which 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 exhibit.
Hayden's work, dubbed The Gulf Stream, is a rowboat that looks washed ashore but actually contains a "sculptural carcass."
On Elbows, by Dozie Kanu, on the other hand, is a concrete chaise lounge that sits on Texas Wire Wheels and is meant to resemble a slab car. You'll also notice a container filled with dark liquid next to it. Said material "pulsates to the rhythm of a heartbeat, suggesting the processes of the unconscious."
On display is also a piece by Leilah Babirye dubbed Agali Awamu (Togetherness) and consisting of two groups of totemic sculptures made of hollowed three trunks decorated with welded metal and objects that look like jewelry. 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've got Tau Lewis' work embedded into the landscape adjacent to Pier 2 and the Greenway. You'll notice three six-foot-wide iron discs with detailed surfaces created through a process of sand-casting. "As if they were fossilized and preserved in the Atlantic for millions of years, the grouping ruminates on the wandering of the ancient sea animal, the scattering of their fossils, and their coexistence with Black bodies throughout the diaspora," reads the release. "Each disc acts as a visual poem or map, contemplating the ocean as an illimitable black geography, and recounting the stories ingrained in the crinoid."
The fifth work on display is by Newark native Kiyan Williams. Ruins of Empire actually re-imagines the Statue of Freedom that currently sit atop of the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. The original monument was actually built by slaves and this one consists of a statue made of bronze and platinum that seems decayed and sinking to the ground.
The chosen location for the installation isn't random either. In fact, the waterfront area once served as a network between the United States and the continents of African and Europe.
"Black Atlantic—titled after the book by Paul Gilroy—explores these threads of connection and highlights the complex identities that have developed through the exchange of culture and ideas over centuries along transatlantic routes," explains the press release.
If the intense pieces of art have you craving for even more of the same, consider working your way through our list of best outdoor art in NYC available to view this summer.