Anish Kapoor’s Bottomless Whirlpool Offers a Swirling Spectacle in Brooklyn Bridge Park
See—and hear—Anish Kapoor's unnerving public artwork.
Anish Kapoor′s Descension, a torrent of dark swirling water that functions as the antithesis of every public fountain you’ve ever seen, had a long journey to New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, where it was unveiled on May 3 as one of the Public Art Fund′s 40th Anniversary exhibitions.
“I first thought of trying to make it about 20 years ago, but we didn’t have the technology,” Kapoor told artnet News. “It’s only two or three years [ago] that I actually understood how to make it. It’s quite nice when an idea gestates for a really long time.”
The piece is at first glance somewhat of a departure from his well-known mirrored disks, but the seemingly bottomless vortex can also be seen as another exploration of the void, a longtime obsession of the artist’s. “It’s obviously a negative form going down to the center of the earth and it’s geometric,” said Kapoor, noting the through lines with other themes in his work.
Descension is enjoying its North American debut, after previous showings at the 2014 Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India, and at Kapoor’s controversial 2015 solo exhibition at the Palace of Versailles. The work is a very clever illusion, but it’s also quite disturbing, the striking visuals accompanied by a steady roar, adding to the sense that you’re about to get sucked down the drain of the world’s largest bathtub.
“It has a very low pitched sound, that deep dark rumble that at some level is kind of frightening, as if the earth is speaking, but it’s also maternal,” the artist added, who finds the noise somewhat soothing.
The setting is also quite dramatic—at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, with a stunning view of Lower Manhattan. Descension serves as an unnervingly unnatural feature in the landscape, undeniably out of place, an everyday substance behaving in way that shouldn’t be possible.
“Water is kind of an interesting material because it’s the most common stuff, but in certain circumstances, it can do extraordinary things,” Kapoor noted. “It has this kind of power.”
See more photos below.
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