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for Gothamist: To confront rising sea levels, an NYC artist invites you to stand in the East River for 12 hours
josé a. alvarado jr.
Sep 21, 2022
A bright orange city parking ticket floats past artist Sarah Cameron Sunde as she silently stands chest deep in the East River at Hallet’s Cove in Queens. A score of geese descends on the small sliver of beach just north of the Socrates Sculpture Garden in Astoria as several fishermen cast their lines with cages on the ends over the high sea wall that encloses the beach.

From the other side of the sea wall, passersby stare at the fully clothed woman with prolonged curiosity as the water slowly inches up her back. Some sit and watch, but everyone is invited to stand with her in the water.

This scene was one of the final rehearsals for Sunde’s nine-year art project, “36.5/A Durational Performance With the Sea.” On Wednesday morning, Sunde began the conclusion of the nine-part series, which aims to provoke dialogue and meditation on sea level rise. It took her to six continents — where she stood in the water for full tidal cycles. New York City represents the project's last stop and final performance — but also a return to its origins.

Photographed for Gothamist, with words by Rosemary Misdary.

To confront rising sea levels, an NYC artist invites you to stand in the East River for 12 hours
Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde concludes her nine-year project to stand in water on six continents and allow the high tides to slowly engulf her.


José A. Alvarado Jr. is a visual storyteller devoted to documenting cultural and social issues, as well as human interest stories in the US and Puerto Rico.
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