Daan Roosegaarde’s “Waterlicht” Pop-Up in New York

An art installation and a call to action, this light flood depicts life alongside rising water

Daan Roosegaarde’s WATERLICHT project, an LED light and lens show, has appeared in several cities since its conception in 2016. From Rotterdam and Toronto to Dubai and London, the show guarantees the same presentation, no matter the setting: an enveloping, rolling wave of blue light meant to mimic where water levels could reach if humans fail to intervene. And while it’s certainly aesthetically pleasing, the work is also alarming—illustrating a very real potential threat.

​”WATERLICHT ​is about showing the power and poetry of living with water, which is more relevant than ever in New York City,” Roosegaarde tells us. “It is an honor to work with Columbia University to exhibit WATERLICHT​ and connect with a new generation which plays a central role in changing the climate.”

The work appears as the headliner for Columbia University’s Year of Water, an ongoing schedule of events, installations, panels, lectures and university-led research programs meant to address rising sea levels and the contamination of our planet’s most abundant asset. On three nights this week (22, 23, and 24 October) the blue light will permeate the public plaza of the University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts in Manhattan.

“For me, art is an activator to make people curious about our future
world, not scared,” Roosegaarde tells CH. This sentiment proves especially poignant for a New York audience. While much of the city remains focused on the issues plaguing the transportation systems in place, Roosegaarde argues that the inevitability of water inching inward from the rivers cannot be ignored.

WATERLICHT is an inspiration for the future: can we build floating cities? How much power can we generate from the movement of water? Experience the vulnerability and the power of living with water,” he says.

While the show is free, registration prior to arriving is required. Showings are from 7:30PM to 11PM on 22, 23 and 24 October.

Images courtesy of Daan Roosegaarde