Heidi Neilson’s “Moon Arrow” travels around the New York City shorelines to draw attention to celestial forces acting on the urban landscape.
Sometimes in New York City, it’s hard to see the stars. Light pollution and towering skyscrapers blot out the view. But there is one astronomical object that always shines through: the moon.
“The moon is of course culturally relevant worldwide, and in urban environments is one of the few celestial bodies we can reliably see because of light pollution,” artist Heidi Neilson told Hyperallergic. “I find it reassuring to be able to go out and see the moon directly from the sidewalk here even though I can’t usually see the stars. Also, New York City lies in a tidal estuary—our landscape itself is affected by the orbiting moon.”
“It operates as a semi-static public sculpture that people are able to see occasionally move very slightly in real time, and I film it in time lapse to allow us to see a video revealing different paces of time: the motion of the arrow in relationship to the tides and relatively speedy activities of people,” Neilson explained.
Her project developed out of her time as an arts and humanities resident with the New York City Urban Field Station; a residency program at Fort Totten Park in Queens launched in 2016 with the mission to engage with urban nature through the arts. Over this past summer, “Moon Arrow” popped up around the city, appearing like a way-finding sign by day, and an otherworldly beacon when illuminated at night.