Floating Island to Tour Manhattan


Last February New York had “The Gates“. This week, we’ll have an equally eccentric public art project, first conceived by Spiral Jetty artist Robert Smithson back in 1970. Though Smithson died in a plane crash in 1973, the “floating island” project has been resurrected by the Whitney Museum and arts organization Minetta Brook.

From the New York Times:

[Diane Shamash, the director of Minetta Brook] and others describe “Floating Island” as a kind of “anti-‘Gates,’ ” referring to the saffron-colored extravaganza by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that wound through Central Park last winter.

In part this is simply because of the modest scale and cost of the island project – about $200,000, compared with the $21 million said to have been paid to create “The Gates.” It is also because, as public artworks, “The Gates” and “Floating Island” are like a split personality: “The Gates” invited public interaction and was, in effect, completed by it; the island, reflecting Smithson’s intellectual and generally chilly aesthetic, floats off at a distance, inaccessible, inhabited by no one.

Damn what I wouldn’t pay to take a ride on that thing. More info, including sketches and a viewing schedule, over at Curbed.

The Gates Have Opened [tr]


  1. Ed says

    I’ve been seeing that thing all week from the window of the office where I work (right at the Hudson, next to Morton Square) … it’s really neat looking. I also saw the Staten island Ferry heading upriver this morning, and have no idea what that was about. Was it lost?

  2. Dave says

    I had no idea that Smithson died in 1973. What a relief. As an outdoor educator and backpacker I thought “spiral jetty” was an assault on the environment. Straight male macho “I will mark this territory with my sign.”
    The floating island looks cool, but honey, its been done – maybe not in NY but in various traditional cultures all over the world (ancient Mexico city is one.)

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