Pannotia New York
Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again will be on view through November 15
The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) have announced the installation of an ambitious, three-part installation by Spanish-born, Brooklyn-based artist Carlos Irijalba in connection to East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR), the large-scale coastal protection project underway along Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again examines how humans have accelerated a global environmental crisis, collapsing starkly different time scales projecting an imminent future while unearthing centuries of geological cycles. Harvesting materials from the city’s infrastructure, Irijalba manifests a 1:1 scale low-tide wave made of 100% recycled asphalt, a sprawling geotechnical core sample sculpture, and salvaged fencing from the FDR Drive.
Irijalba created the installation while in residence with DDC, where he has been working since last fall as part of DCLA’s Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) program. Following the public opening today the artist will lead scheduled walkthroughs of Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again in October.
“We’re very pleased to host Carlos Irijalba, whose concepts examining how humans have accelerated the global climate crisis are very appropriate at ESCR, where a 2.4-mile barrier including walls and flood gates is being built to protect Lower East Side residents from future storms and tidal flooding,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We look forward to completing ESCR and its companion project BMCR by the end of 2026, protecting more than 150,000 City residents from coastal flooding while also building better recreation opportunities in communities that need them.”
“Artists can help us see our surroundings in new ways, something that Carlos Irijalba, working with our partners at DDC, has done here in an urgent, extraordinary way,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Our PAIR program taps into the creative practice of artists to help us examine some of the most pressing issues we face as a city. With Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again, Irijalba invites New Yorkers to see and understand the way that climate change – which can often be too big and abstract to grasp in meaningful ways – will affect our city. It’s also a deep reflection on how the work of DDC and others on the this monumental project represent some of the best tools we have to protect our city for generations to come. I encourage all New Yorkers to see and experience this incredible artwork while it lasts.”
“By bringing these creative and thought-provoking pieces to Corlears Hook Park, Carlos Irijalba, DDC, and DCLA are inviting New Yorkers and park visitors to reflect on humans’ impact on our natural landscape, at a site where we are working collaboratively to address the threats of global climate change and rising sea levels,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This installation embodies what great public art does best: enhancing our shared spaces while sparking conversations about the most important issues of our time.”
Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again is presented in three adjacent areas just west of the Corlears Hook Park Ferry Terminal on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The Wave (2023) is a 30 by 7-foot low tidal wave sculpted with 100% recycled asphalt rising over the East River seawall. The Fence (2023) repurposes approximately 70 feet of fencing material from the FDR Drive. Adorned with images of aquatic and land animals, The Fence points to interspecies coexistence in the coastal habitat. Unexpected specimen, such as seahorses, can survive in urban waters alongside the beaver who, similar to humans, engineer their environment.
The third part titled Pannotia (2023) is an extension of Irijalba’s ongoing exploration of geotechnical drillings commonly called core samples. As a routine part of New York City´s urban planning, these samples are extracted from the ground to understand bedrock composition, and can, for example, determine height limitations for skyscraper construction. Each Pannotiasculpture is site-specific and displayed within the area where the drillings are sourced. This commission marks Irijalba’s largest of these sculptures, spanning 45 feet across. Viewing the variety and layers of bedrock enables us to understand this seemingly inert material as living, dynamic, and part of a process of continual change. Together, the three works that comprise Joined an Avalanche, Never to be Alone Again make visible how the City of New York is building resiliency into its survival by looking decades and centuries into the future.
DCLA’s Public Artists in Residence program embeds artists in City agencies, where they work alongside public servants, bringing their creative practice to bear on pressing civic challenges. Irijalba was announced as DDC’s Public Artist in Residence in November 2022.
The artist Carlos Irijalba on the work and his vision:
“A tidal asphalt wave pushes across the East River´s barrier like a preserved lava spill, reminding us of what was here before and what this same place might become. But this wave is made of 100% recycled asphalt that is regularly collected from broken streets, then refreshed and reused in the city´s need for road maintenance, like a relentless digestive system. Sustainability isn’t always aesthetically satisfying, but it’s a necessary commitment to citizenship in the 21st century. Asphalt, discarded fencing, and core sample drillings are the raw materials of the city. My practice catalyzes such existing materials and strategies within the constructed space, and eventually allows those same materials to be reabsorbed by the site.
Through a one-year-long residency with the DDC, I’ve understood how they operate on small and large scales, as an invisible, ever-present organism, to improve the city´s functionality without disrupting its core capabilities. The efforts being made by the department rise above generational, metabolic, and electoral cycles to confront our new climate reality.”
East Side Coastal Resiliency
ESCR is a $1.45 billion climate resiliency project that will provide flood protection and improve open spaces for more than 110,000 New Yorkers, including 28,000 residents in NYCHA housing. The project is building a 2.4-mile-long flexible flood barrier consisting of walls, gates, berms and raised parkland from Montgomery Street at the southern end up to Asser Levy Playground between East 23rd and East 25th streets, areas that were severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Managed by DDC, it will also upgrade existing sewer systems to capture and manage precipitation during storms. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided $338 million for the project.
In May 2023, Stuyvesant Cove Park re-opened on Manhattan’s East Side as part of ESCR.
Construction of ESCR began in November 2020 in Asser Levy Playground, and in July 2022, Mayor Adams joined with numerous City agencies and local officials to reopen the Playground, which was rebuilt with a 45-ton sliding flood gate, a floodwall and new resilient play areas and equipment.
In addition to Stuyvesant Cove and Asser Levy, ESCR is also upgrading East River Park, Corlears Hook Park, Murphy Brothers Playground and other open spaces in the area, making them more resilient and accessible while adding new and improved amenities, including improved waterfront access through reconstructed bridges and entry points. East River Park will be elevated approximately eight feet with upgraded recreational facilities, new passive-use areas, and approximately 2,000 trees — including 50 different species selected for their ability to withstand salt spray and extreme weather. ESCR will also build footings for a future pedestrian bridge elevating the Manhattan Greenway over its narrowest point along the East River, improving community access to the park.
The end date of ESCR has been extended to 2026 in order to accommodate local residents’ request that construction in East River Park be phased so that roughly half the park remains open throughout construction.
In October 2022, Mayor Adams and other officials broke ground on a companion project to ESCR’s south called Brooklyn Bridge – Montgomery Coastal Resiliency (BMCR). BMCR will construct a 0.82-mile long system of flood gates that will flip up from the ground in the event of a storm or flood event, and will also improve recreation areas along its route. Together, ESCR and BMCR will form a 3.22-mile system of flood protection from the Brooklyn Bridge north to Asser Levy Playground.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $24 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.
About the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/culture.
About Carlos Irijalba
To the question “does the world need this work of art?” most times the answer is “no.” Irijalba’s work moves by the principle of pertinence and is responsive to context. Using installation, sculpture, film and existing materials from industrial processes, his work reflects upon the collective construction of territory and the relative experience of time, while always questioning the dominance of the anthropocentric perspective. Irijalba was a resident at the Rijksacademie Van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam) from 2013-2014. Awards include: Mondriaan Fonds 2022, Shifting Foundation 2015, Marcelino Botin 2007-2008. International exhibitions include: The Shanghai Biennial 2021, CAB Art Center Brussels 2017, Guangzhou Triennale 2017, MUMA Museum Melbourne 2014. His work is in the collections of the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Sammlung Wemhoener Foundation, and the Taviloglu Art Collection in Istanbul among others.