Descension is a hot tub katabasis, an endless swirly into the depths of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The water, sculpted by a funnel, dialogues with the continuous flow of the East River and traffic over the Brooklyn Bridge in the near distance.
At 26 feet in diameter, the piece, presented here by the Public Art Fund, builds on Kapoor’s longtime exploration of emptiness (and could also be seen, depending on your politics, as an apt metaphor for the state of the world today.) Up close, its foamy surface—and gurgling machinations—feels peaceful. For safety reasons, a thin white rail encircles the piece to prevents toddlers and Pomeranians from drowning, but also creates distance between the visitor and the void. A video of the installation can be seen below.
Previously, Kapoor has installed Descension in Italy, India, in Paris’s Seine, and in the garden at Versailles. Here in Brooklyn, “Anish Kapoor reminds us of the contingency of appearances: our senses inevitably deceive us,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume, in a prepared statement. “With Descension, he creates an active object that resonates with changes in our understanding and experience of the world. In this way, Kapoor is interested in what we don’t know rather than in what we do, understanding that the limit of perception is also the threshold of human imagination.”
“The fact that this is free [to visit] matters,” Kapoor said, at a press conference yesterday. “We believe that art liberates us, opens us, frees us, to have it as open access is a terrific thing,” a particularly rich observation from an artist who’s unapologetically hoarding the blackest black on earth.
Descension is on view through September 10 at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1.