Allison Janae Hamilton’s Waters of a Lower Register was an immersive 5-channel film installation that uses the material of land—and the histories and tensions carried within—as a metaphor to reflect the range of emotions that this tumultuous year has manifested. The film, full of natural beauty and motion, interspersed swirling landscapes and atmospheric sounds, reorienting up and down and moving between quiet and frenetic, contemplative and chaotic. Infusing the built environment of New York with imagery from Hamilton’s native North Florida, the environment transitions and shifts from paradisiacal to tense. In juxtaposing the natural world’s wonder and challenges, particularly with the rhythms of a city in cataclysm, we are reminded that the land holds all that we experience, past and present.
Situated in Pier 3 of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Waters of a Lower Register was embedded into the expanse of the horizon line of the East River, mingling contrasting but interrelated natural sightlines together. Shot in part in the aftermath of a tropical storm, the installation gestured towards the complex environmental issues and social histories of the Brooklyn waterfront. Hamilton’s visual poetics of the rural landscape of the American south conjured the reality of the Pier as an ecological red zone under threat of rising sea levels and increasingly catastrophic weather patterns. The rapidly changing frames of water, trees, and sky recalled the waves of mass shipping and migration that overtook the Brooklyn waterways. Standing at that juncture, once the start to a Lenape walking trail leading east, it was impossible to ignore the impact of the devastating diseases—smallpox, measles, yellow fever, cholera, and now COVID-19— that were introduced to these shores and ran rampant in the density of urban life. Through its affective invocation of disparate waterways in the American landscape, Hamilton invited viewers to both reflect on and relate to the narratives nature reveals as it mirrors back all that it witnesses.
Lead project support for Waters of a Lower Register was generously provided by Lily Johnson White, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Molly Gochman.
Major Creative Time programming support for 2020 has been provided by Open Society Foundations, The Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust,The Willem de Kooning Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Charina Endowment Fund.
ABOUT THE TEAM
Waters of a Lower Register would not have been made possible without the expertise and dedication of the following individuals and organizations:
Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York & Aspen
Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation