Public art in Brooklyn Bridge Park invites visitors to step inside big metal loops

Artist Antony Gormley inside his work "New York Clearing." (Photos by Gabe Herman)

A new public artwork opens on Feb. 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 3, and features swooping and connecting circular lines of aluminum that are meant to be an interactive space for visitors.

The work is called “New York Clearing,” and is by British artist Antony Gormley. It’s described as a “drawing in space,” and is part of an international art project, CONNECT, BTS, which is presented by the mega-popular South Korean boy band BTS.

The CONNECT, BTS project includes free artworks in five cities on four continents, including Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Seoul and New York.

“New York Clearing” is made up of about 11 miles of square aluminum tubing, in rising loops and coils that are actually a single connecting line and sometimes reach as high as 50 feet. Its location in Pier 3 is just next to the East River, and directly across from Lower Manhattan.

Artist Antony Gormley said the work is meant to be walked through and experienced, though not climbed, and he appreciated the park allowing a work that is a bit wobbly at times.

“It’s more of a verb than a noun. It’s a site in which hopefully you are the subject,” said Gormley at a preview of the work on Feb. 4. “I really hope people come in and negotiate this field, it’s a field to be felt.”

Gormley said there were challenges in assembling the work, which is a parametric structure. The material arrived in straight lines 24 feet long, he said, and the first pieces collapsed two days into setting it up, a few weeks back. He thanked everyone involved in assembling the work and developing the project at the park.

The art world can be internalized, Gormley said, but the CONNECT, BTS project affirms that art is for everyone. “Art is made to be shared,” Gormley said. “Art should be a platform for greater connectivity and understanding.”

The assembly of the work may be done, Gormley said, but the art continues as people come to experience it. “In its conversation with Lower Manhattan,” Gormley said, “I’m asking, in our species’ disappearance into high density urban environments, Can we use the space of art as a space… in which personal truth and subjective feeling can be transmitted from one person to another?”

Pier 3 opened last summer, noted Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park President, and was the last pier in the park to open to the public. The space was conceived as a multi-purpose plaza, Landau said, and he thanked the artist and project organizers for bringing the work to the pier.

The art director of CONNECT, BTS, Daehyung Lee, spoke of the overall project’s themes related to diversity, love and making connections that reach across barriers of all kinds, including languages and nationalities. “We are the same, but we keep forgetting this,” said Lee, who added that technology can sometimes make us more isolated. “All like-minded people in the world, we are connected.”

“New York Clearing” will be at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park until March 27, 2020.

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