Brian Tolle, presents his site-relevant 40-foot tall sculpture, EUREKA, at Federal Hall, alongside rare presentations of the Flushing Remonstrance, the 1657 petition for religious freedom, and Washington’s Inauguration Bible
The National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service, is pleased to announce the presentation of Brian Tolle’s EUREKA, on view June 27 - September 8, 2018, in Federal Hall, the iconic memorial to democracy on Wall Street. EUREKA is part of a new art initiative, curated by Bonnie Levinson, inviting contemporary artists to investigate themes that resonate with the history and legacy of Federal Hall, melding the past and present, to serve as a catalyst toward the reinvigoration of civic life and a platform for free expression.
For this presentation of EUREKA, Tolle has chosen to exhibit his work alongside a rare viewing of The Flushing Remonstrance, the 1657 New Netherland petition for “liberty of conscience” that served as the precursor to religious freedom, as cemented in the First Amendment written at Federal Hall over a century later. Not seen in Manhattan in over 30 years, the Remonstrance will share a room with the Bible from President Washington’s 1789 inauguration at Federal Hall.
Tolle’s 40-foot tall sculpture, reflecting a rippling and distorted facade of a 17th century Dutch canal house, pays homage to the legacy of 40 years of Dutch rule in New York. Originally created for Jan Hoet’s city-wide exhibition, Over the Edges, 2000, in Ghent, Belgium, its re-presentation in Federal Hall blurs the site’s architectural and political history with the contemporary in the conceptual artwork.
Brian Tolle describes the work: "EUREKA is a sculptural play with illusion—a facade of a facade. Its Dutch inspired form points to New York’s early history and its fluid, but troubled, transformation from a Dutch seat of power to British colony, to an American platform for diversity and democracy. The sculpture is an apparition, a mirage of a building that has been displaced and no longer exists. Like the Dutch buildings of lower Manhattan and the canal that was once Broad Street-—erased with only the street names lingering as a reminder of their existence—EUREKA serves as a marker of Federal Hall’s complex history. Its thin veil floats upwards, into the neoclassical dome of Federal Hall, evoking the strife between form and object, as well as the tension between political volley and social action.”
The artwork’s title is inspired by the brilliant Greek polymath Archimedes exploration of displacement. After finding the upward pressure on a submerged object created buoyant force, Archimedes ran through the streets of Syracuse, Sicily, shouting, “EUREKA! EUREKA!” or “I found it!” I found it!” Tolle envisioned EUREKA as a metaphor for Archimedes’ principle of leverage. With the right tools, Archimedes believed all was possible. “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to stand," he said, "and I shall move the world.”
The nation’s Founders leveraged principles as powerful as Archimedes’ when they codified the historic events that occurred at Federal Hall, including: the acquittal in 1735 of the newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger for libel, after he exposed government corruption, which established the foundation for freedom of the press; the 1765 Stamp Act Congress, which protested taxation of then British colonies without representation, and sowed the seeds for the union to come; and the passing of the first amendments to the Constitution, which cemented in perpetuity individual rights.
“The National Park Service is honored to host Tolle’s magnificent edifice EUREKA and the Flushing Remonstrance, a transformational document to establishing the governing principles of the United States,” said Shirley McKinney, Superintendent for Federal Hall National Memorial. “As the site where George Washington took the oath of office as our first President and the site of the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices, Federal Hall is the appropriate venue to bring the two together to spark conversations about history through a contemporary lens.”
“As we embark on a new day for Federal Hall, this installation highlights this historic site's potential as an ever-evolving arena for public discourse through the arts," said Marie Salerno, President of the Harbor Conservancy. "Federal Hall must be steeped, but not stuck in the past. This will be a place where artists with diverse perspectives will be invited to interpret the ideas, ideals and flaws of our democracy forged here.
Highlight: Flushing Remonstrance
It is particularly relevant that Tolle’s EUREKA is paired with the rarely displayed Flushing Remonstrance. On view in Manhattan for the first time in three decades, the Remonstrance, a petition to the Dutch West India Company, for “liberty of conscience” was signed in 1657 by 31 residents of the town of Flushing — which became part of Queens, New York. Director-General of the New Netherland Peter Stuyvesant’s ban on all religious practice in the colony outside of the Dutch Reformed Church, led to the persecution of Quakers, among others. The Remonstrance petition for an exception to this ban, is considered by historians to be a forerunner to the first amendment’s freedom of religion clause and is sometimes referred to as the Magna Carta of the New World. Read the text of the beautifully crafted document in The Flushing Remonstrance Revisited, an online exhibit from the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.
EUREKA at Federal Hall is organized by the Harbor Conservancy with the artist, Brian Tolle; National Park Service; Curator for Visual Arts Bonnie Levinson; Performance Designer Angrette McCloskey; and C24 Gallery. The Flushing Remonstrance presentation is made possible by the New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust. Major sponsorship for the installation was provided by American Express.
About the Artist:
Brian Tolle sculptures and installations emphasize a formal and iconographic dialog with history and context. Using a variety of media, his work draws from the scale and experience of its surroundings, provoking a rereading by cross-wiring reality and fiction. Drawing ideas from a broad-based conceptual analysis, Tolle blurs the border between the contemporary and the historical. His approach involves in-depth research, which is then distilled and directed creating an intuitive personal response. Tolle is acclaimed for his major permanent public artworks including the “Irish Hunger Memorial” in Battery Park City, New York; “Miss Brooklyn” and “Miss Manhattan” at the entrance of the Manhattan Bridge, Flatbush, Brooklyn; and his recent appointment as the lead artist of the East Midtown Waterfront Project, an esplanade between East 53rd and East 59th Streets along New York City’s East River. Tolle's works have been exhibited in the Whitney Biennial; the Tate Modern; the S.M.A.K.; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Queens Museum of Art, New York; and the Invitational Exhibition at the American Academy of Arts. The artist is currently represented by C24 Gallery.
About the Curator:
Bonnie Levinson, Curatorial and Cultural Consultant for the Visual Arts at Federal Hall and the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, curated Brian Tolle’s EUREKA, 2018, and Mel Ziegler’s A Living Thing: Flag Exchange, 2017. Levinson’s career spans over three decades working in the arts with cultural institutions. She served as Deputy Director for External Affairs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Vice President for Development for the New York Public Library, Associate Director of The Hudson River Museum and Assistant Curator of Education at the Delaware Art Museum. She works with cultural institutions creating public arts programming, and consults in development and marketing, and strategic planning. Currently she works with the Making Waves Academy in Richmond CA developing an arts education and artist residency program.
About Federal Hall National Memorial:
Federal Hall is the birthplace of American government. It is where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President and where the first U.S. Congress invented a system of governance that still guides the country today, including enactment of the Bill of Rights. The current building, a former U.S. Customs House and later U.S. Sub-Treasury, is one of America’s finest examples of Greek Revival public architecture and memorializes the first President and our nation’s founding.
About the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy:
Founded in 2005, the Harbor Conservancy is the primary nonprofit partner of the National Park Service’s sites on New York Harbor, including Federal Hall National Memorial. The Harbor Conservancy works to restore and activate treasured monuments, conserve historic collections, and connect communities to opportunities for exploration and recreation in treasured natural habitats and landscapes.
Visitor Information: EUREKA on view: June 27, 2018 - September 8, 2018
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
Main entrance: 26 Wall Street, New York, NY.
Wheelchair accessible entrance: 15 Pine Street, New York, NY