Give it a whirl! Artsy water feature opens in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Give it a whirl! Artsy water feature opens in B’klyn Bridge Park
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This art is water under the bridge!

A pool of swirling water created by sculptor Anish Kapoor began rumbling in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Wednesday. “Descension” sits in the ground at Pier 1, roaring as ferry horns honk and tourists snap photos against the Brooklyn Bridge — elements that created the perfect setting to install the piece, according to its inventor.

“We’re on the edge of the park, in sight of the bridge, near the river — it’s a good place for it,” said Kapoor, who also sculpted Chicago’s iconic “Cloud Gate,” widely known as “The Bean,” and owns the exclusive art rights to the world’s blackest pigment.

Kapoor planned to tint the “Descension” whirlpool black to produce the illusion of a sinister black hole, as he did with previous incarnations of the project in France and India. But he decided to forgo the dark hue and leave the water in its original color after seeing it up against the East River, according to one of the project’s curators.

“One of the things I really like about the piece here is the degree of transparency of the water and the relationship to the river,” said Nicholas Baume, director of the Public Art Fund, which brought the piece to Brooklyn. “I think those are all of the things that played into his thinking.”

Kapoor also made this pool the most intense yet, powering it up with more strength than previous versions, said Baume.

“It has more energy, the strong is stronger, the vortex gives off a bigger rumble,” he said.

Visitors took notice of its power, gushing about the churning water’s thundering accompaniment.

“It’s interesting — I love the sound even more than the visual,” said New Jersey resident Bob Garver, who journeyed across the George Washington Bridge to see the pool with his friends and wife after reading about it.

“Descension,” which is open from 9 am to 9 pm, is protected by a fence as well as by a 24-hour guard who will stop people from throwing things down the whirlpool or jumping into the abyss themselves. For added security, the Public Art Fund is also working on a cover to go over it when night falls.

“Descension” at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 (Furman St. and Old Fulton St. in Brooklyn Heights). May 3–Sept. 10, 9 am–9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill