Symposium: Art at Water’s Edge

Artists, activists, and designers engage the meeting of land with water. Facing climate change and rising sea levels, this event links New York with communities across the nation and globe that sit at water’s edge. This afternoon activation is inspired by acclaimed director Peter Sellars’ call to “listen to the oceans,” and by director and scholar May Joseph‘s call for cosmopolitan citizenship in “fluid New York.” From the work of Indigenous water protectors who challenge extractive futures to urban planners responding to waterfront access, Art at Water’s Edge will offer an intergenerational forum for the imagination in action.

Session 1: Opening Session: Listening to the Ocean

11:00am–12:00pm: Keynote Conversation with Peter Sellars
Veterans Room
Monochromatic Light (Afterlife) director Peter Sellars delivers an address to the art world on the meaning and urgency of ‘ecological civilization’ in the next generation.

12:00pm–1:00pm: Of Whales with Wu Tsang
Board of Officers Room
Artist and filmmaker Wu Tsang discusses three recent works—Moby Dick, Of Whales, and Moved by the Motion—that look to CLR James’ classic text, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, among other influences, to envision transfuturity from a whale’s eye view of the cosmos. Moderated by Global Asia theorist and Dartmouth scholar Eng-Beng Lim.

1:00pm–2:00pm: Film Screening Room
Includes moving image work by Jim Bowermaster, Coco Fusco, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Tourmaline, Wu Tsang, Kiyan Williams, and Geo Wyex, among others.

Session 2: Mid-Day Session: Water, Ritual, History

2:00pm–3:30pm: Concurrent Sessions

Knowledge of Wounds
Veterans Room
S.J Norman, Joseph M. Pierce, and devynn emory in conversation regarding their collaborative work centering Indigenous sovereignty and survivance in Lenapehoking and beyond.

Your Eyes Will Be an Empty Word
Board of Officers Room
Coco Fusco in conversation with Adrienne Edwards on Fusco’s recent acclaimed film mourning the unidentified or unclaimed dead buried on Hart Island—New York City’s potter’s field.

The Sacred and Profane in The Ruins of Empire
Company D
Poet and artist Pamela Sneed in conversation with artist Kiyan Williams about their recent work engaging sites of loss, memory, and ritual remembrance on the shoals of the Black Atlantic. Moderated by curator Journey Streams.

underCURRENTS and Blackprints: A conversation with nia love and Jerome W Haferd
Company A
Dancer and choreographer nia love discusses her work in intersectionality, transnationalism, Blackness, and the tools of embodied memory in conversation with architect Jerome W Haferd, who discusses how architecture establishes a dialogue with contemporary phenomena, nonhegemonic users, and spaces.

Film Screening Room
Includes moving image work by Jim Bowermaster, Coco Fusco, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Tourmaline, Wu Tsang, Kiyan Williams, and Geo Wyex, among others.

Session 3: Afternoon Session: Where Do We Go From Here?

4:00pm–5:15pm: Concurrent Sessions

At the Sea’s Edge
Veterans Room
Author Macarena Gómez-Barris in conversation with durational artist and activist Sarah Cameron Sunde on Sunde’s durational performance with the sea. Moderated by author and NYU Professor Una Chaudhuri.

Signe Nielsen in Conversation with Mitchell Joachim Moderated by El Glasberg
Board of Officers Room
Landscape architect Signe Nielsen (Little Island) in conversation with Mitchell Joachim (The Monarch Sanctuary) on resilience and adaptation in the built environment. Moderated by author and NYU professor El Glasberg.

Atlantic is a Sea of Bones
Company D
Artist and activist Tourmaline in conversation with performer Egyptt Labeija, star of Tourmaline’s film Atlantic is a Sea of Bones on linking past, present, and future on the West Side Piers of Manhattan.

Metabolism | Photosynthesism
Company E
Eco-systems artist Michael Wang in conversation with Global Asia theorist Eng-Beng Lim regarding micro and megastructures of plant ecology on Purple Earth.

4:00pm–6:00pm: Film Screening Room
Includes moving image work by Jim Bowermaster, Coco Fusco, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Tourmaline, Wu Tsang, Kiyan Williams, and Geo Wyex, among others.

5:30pm–6:30pm: Closing Remarks with May Joseph
Veterans Room
Author and director May Joseph (Fluid New York, Terra Aqua) shares some of her recent work and reflects upon the day’s proceedings. Moderated by Tavia Nyong’o.

All-Day Exhibits

#BLACKPRINTS by Jerome W Haferd
First Floor Entryway
This visualization by the artist and architect Jerome W Haferd in the entrance to the Armory animates the well-known Viele Map of Manhattan (1865) which documents the historic lakes, rivers, and waterways over which the modern city grid has been built. Haferd has employed AI technology to fabulate the future of the island’s coastline, as rising sea levels are projected to reshape it. Mindful of past as well as future, he has also traced in red the paths travelled by the first nations on Lenapehoking, and, in black, the shifting locations of the historically black neighborhoods that have moved steadily uptown because of pogroms, gentrification, and displacement. Using your smart phone in the hall, you can also enter an augmented reality version of this rendering that spatializes this information and allows you to experience art at water’s edge as a living document.

Photo Exhibition: Neo-Animism: Luck is Alive
Library and Second Floor Hallway
Renowned photographer Pieter Hugo presents a portfolio of provocative images, Neo-Animism: Luck is Alive, in creative collaboration with Mami Wata Surf that express the vitality of surfing traditions in Africa and its diaspora. Speaking about the concept behind the use of distortion and reflection in the photo shoot, creative director Peet Pienaar explains that it is a way of representing how, as a surfer, you might “see yourself within the ocean.”

Reading Table
Second Floor Hallway
Peruse reading materials that tackle the intersection of climate change with art and design, including puppeteer, theater director, and Founder of Harmattan Theater company May Joseph‘s Fluid New York and Terra Aqua as well as Mami Wata‘s Afro Surf, among others.

Installation: Island (Phragmites autralis)
Company E
Island (Phragmites australis) by eco-systems artist Michael Wang presents a ring of reeds radiating from a central void. The reed species, Phragmites australis subsp. australis, is native to Europe and Asia and is considered invasive in the New York City region, where it forms dense monocultural stands in coastal wetlands. In some areas, these stands have become important storm surge barriers and slow coastal erosion. On the eastern coast of China, where Phragmites australis is native, the species is being displaced by the Atlantic American salt marsh species Sporobolus alterniflorus (smooth cordgrass).

Sarah Cameron Sunde’s 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea, photo by Jeremy Dennis for

Return to the Making Space at the Armory Listing


October 9, 2022

Sunday, October 9, 2022
11:00am, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm

Single Session: $25 (plus fees)
Day Pass: $45 (plus fees)

Health and Safety Protocols
Effective September 26, 2022, masks are optional—all guests are encouraged to wear a mask in the Armory to protect themselves and others. To view additional COVID-19 Policies, please visit our FAQs page.

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