Swirling Into “Descension”

Anish Kapoor’s massive public art piece makes its U.S. debut in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Photo by James Ewing

As a native New Yorker, it’s safe to say I haven’t been around too many whirlpools in my lifetime. Actually, if we’re being honest, I’ve only ever seen one in person (a very tiny one when I went whitewater rafting near Toronto nine years ago). It was nothing like Anish Kapoor’s massive, 26-foot-diameter installation, Descension, that’s currently on display at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The Public Art Fund is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, so it’s presenting pieces of bold and challenging works of art like Descension throughout New York City. Even though this is the first time Descension has been on display in the States, this isn’t the first time Kapoor has had an outdoor installation here. You might remember his last public installation in Manhattan, in 2006: Sky Mirror, a 35-foot concave mirror set in Rockefeller Center.

Photo by James Ewing

The British-Indian artist is famous for exploring the theme of “the void” and negative space by using simple, geometric shapes and a range of materials—from raw pigment, stainless steel, and stone to resin, wax, and synthetic polymer. Since he is fascinated with this idea of a substance or matter turning within and onto itself through his art, he also plays with using water as a canvas for his work. Hence, Descension, the hypnotic aquatic vortex that is now in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, this piece is surreal when you come face-to-face with it. As I stood at the edge of the pool, watching the water as it continuously whirled to the bottomless depths of Earth through its center, I was thinking that it pulled me into another dimension a million miles from Dumbo. Whenever I’m in dire need of a break from the constant city rush, this serene installation should be able to help me feel zen (without having to drive out of Brooklyn).

Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo
On display through Sunday, September 10

Spin through Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park with this itinerary: