Detail of artist George Kortsolakis’s “Crete,” a model of his island homeland he built in his Bay Ridge front yard. Photo: Angela Jimenez, 2005.
Greek immigrant George Kortsolakis came to Brooklyn in 1955 and began making “Crete,” a sculptural model of his homeland, in 2002. Photo: Angela Jimenez, 2005.
Spirited music and dancing play a part in the annual memorial Tribute to Our Ancestors of the Middle Passage on the beach at Coney Island. Photo: Ocean Morisset, 2012
In Afro-Atlantic religious traditions of Brazil and the Caribbean Yemaja is venerated as mother goddess of the oceans, depicted here in statuary at a Brooklyn botánica. Photo: Larry Racioppo, 2008.
A watercolor depiction of the Williamsburg shoreline as it appeared in the 1850’s. Illustration from The First Hundred Years of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. New York, 1951.
For the annual Italian Catholic “Giglio” festival in July, a decorated boat hoisted aloft by 100 men in Williamsburg carries a brass band and “the Turks,” who throw confetti down onto crowds cheering in the streets. Larry Racioppo, 1998.
The annual Viking Fest in Bay Ridge features a replica Viking ship and traditional Norwegian accordion music. Photo: Courtesy of Hildegard Lindstrom and Leif Ericson Viking Ship, Inc., 2010. vikingship.org
For 110 years The Coney Island Polar Bear Club (founded 1903) has invited New Yorkers to start the New Year with a January 1st ritual plunge into the Atlantic. Photo: Randy Duchaine, 1993.
The Mermaid Parade was added in 1983 to the variety of Brooklyn’s water celebrations. Now drawing thousands of peopleeach year, the parade revels in the spectacular mermaid costumes designed and worn by local artists. Larry Racioppo, 2001.
For Harborlore Annie Ferdous will be performing a water vessel dance featuring the large clay vessels (kolshi) used to carry water in her native country Bangladesh. Photo: Etienne Frossard
Keith Johnston, a performer of old Jamaican reggae tunes, will be featured in Harborlore’s “Songs of the Sea” concert at Jalopy Music Theatre in Red Hook. Photo: Nick van der Grinten.
Brooklyn Arts Council's Harborlore Festival was a series of 12 free dance, music and storytelling events throughout Brooklyn exploring the role of water in the artistic traditions of the borough’s diverse immigrant and diaspora communities in a post-Sandy world.
Harborlore Festival featured folk arts such as tashlich, a Rosh Hashanah (New Year) rite of renewal that in Brooklyn is performed at the East River (among other places) by observant Jews; the symbolic boats paraded life-size at Scandinavian and Italian festivals in Bay Ridge and Williamsburg; the baptismal spirituals such as “Dip Them Leeward” sung in the African-Caribbean churches of East Flatbush; songs and chants sung in praise of water deities, such as the African-Brazilian mother of the ocean, Yemaja, a fishing feast dance called hukilau from Hawaii and more.
It’s no secret that Brooklyn is surrounded by over 50 miles of water from Greenpoint to Canarsie, and is also home to thousands of immigrants hailing from coastal locales across the globe—Jamaica, Bangladesh, Italy, Guyana, Egypt—where water is omnipresent. These immigrants, especially the artists among them, have brought cultural traditions to Brooklyn that capture the beauty, meaning and vulnerability of living at water’s edge. In post-Sandy New York, Harborlore Festival signals the importance of learning new respect and reverence for the power of water.
We are excited to work with an amazing array of folk artists and partner organizations for Harborlore Festival.