Admission free, toga required
“Those About to Die Salute You, a battle on water wielded with baguette swords and watermelon cannon balls by New Yorkâ€™s art dignitaries, will take place on Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 6 pm in a flooded Worldâ€™s Fair-era reflecting pool in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, just outside of the Queens Museum of Art. Various types of vessels have been designed and constructed by artist provocateur Duke Riley and his collaborators: the galleons, some made of reeds harvested in the park, will be used to stage a citywide battle of the art museums in which representatives from the Queens Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and El Museo del Barrio will battle before a toga-clad crowd of frenzied onlookers.”
“For the Queens Museum, Mr. Riley proposed a naval battle reminiscent of naumachia, a type of bloody sea battle conducted in basins, lakes and amphitheaters to entertain Roman emperors like Caesar, Nero and later, Napoleon in Paris. More lavish than regular gladiator games, these boat battles were sometimes saved for moments when the restless or hungry masses needed placating, historians say. Mr. Riley says he appreciated the sentiment, as the world suffers through an economic downturn.
“The artist also found a parallel in the 1920s economic decadence of the â€œGreat Gatsbyâ€ era when the park in Queens was a coal ash heap. He offered to build his boats using Phragmites australis, a wheat-like reed that is choking out the biodiversity of the parkâ€™s lakes and nearby wetlands because it can tolerate the ashy pollutants still seeping underneath.â€