Rune of Ruin (33°51'26.4"S 151°12'06.1"E)

Duke Riley2021

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

In making this work, Duke Riley drew upon stories from the Newtown creek in Brooklyn, one of the most polluted waterways in the United States and home to many people that illegally moor their vessels there.

'In 2003 I sailed a 26’ dilapidated sloop into the [Newtown] creek and illegally tied it up to an abandoned bulkhead […] As days turned into years, other boats began to appear around me and continued to do so long past my departure from the creek in 2013. There are currently more than 30 derelict boats moored in the creek, mostly clustered together, with people living aboard full time. At first glance, the people that remain there are living out a romantic maritime dream […] In reality, for most this alternate existence is coupled with harsh winters without heat and a lack of plumbing, running water and basic amenities that many of us take for granted. The most notable downside is the continuous and potentially lethal exposure to a highly carcinogenic environment caused by living on top of a federal Superfund site. Most have no financial means to leave and live elsewhere, but are constantly in fear of being told to leave in the middle of the night.'—Duke Riley


  • Title: Rune of Ruin (33°51'26.4"S 151°12'06.1"E)
  • Creator: Duke Riley
  • Date Created: 2021
  • Location: The Cutaway at Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesythe artist. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Art Makers.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: sandblasted reclaimed sandstone
  • Edition: 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022): rīvus

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