Residents in the waterfront neighborhoods of DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and the Columbia Waterfront Area have received nothing but good news of late regarding that great long stretch of neighborhood public space, Brooklyn Bridge Park. For decades a bustling industrial waterfront, then mostly neglected for decades more, the area we now call Brooklyn Bridge Park is enjoying an extraordinary run of short-term creative energy and projects (the pop-up-pool at Pier 2; the new No. 7 Sub and Luke’s Lobster at Pier 1) as well as long-term development (the Picnic Penninsula at Pier 5; the cool new Pedestrian Bridge connecting Squibb Park to the river). From barren no-man’s land to city-wide recreation destination in just a few short years. Remarkable.
This summer brings yet another excellent reason to stroll along waterfront, a 1000-foot-long photography exhibition called The Fence, spread out over the length of the park, from Pier 1 to Pier 6. The Fence is divided into thematic sections: Home, Streets, People, Creatures, and Play, and the photographs on display are the winners of a huge international competition. All the photographers here have been given space for a series of five or six shots, and most are terrific: funny, provocative, eye-opening, lovely, powerful. I walked the entire length of the Fence on a recent evening, starting at Atlantic Avenue and going “backwards” to Pier 1 (rewarding myself with a fantastic sandwich from No. 7 Sub upon completion), and again and again found myself deeply engaged with the work here… and this despite the distraction of the park’s as-usual breathtaking views.
The Fence is great in and of itself–the more public art the better, in my opinion–but it’s also only a sneak preview for the return of Photoville, a mini-museum of sorts housed in multiple shipping containers, which will be erected in Brooklyn Bridge Park again this September. I loved last year’s Photoville, which was held on the Pier 3 uplands, featured lots of amazing work, and came complete with excellent Frites-n-Meats burgers and a beer garden. This year the event promises to be more of the same, and I’ll probably be there on opening day, September 19. But in the meantime, I’ll likely walk the Fence at least once more before summer’s over.
The Fence at Photoville 2023 can be found along the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park, from directly beneath the actual Brooklyn Bridge to the area opposite Picnic Peninsula around Pier 5. More information can be found here.