Photo by Nicholas Knight
Marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, local artist Tauba Auerbach has transformed a historic fireboat into a modern “dazzle” ship. First invented by British painter Norman Wilkinson during WWI, dazzle camouflage patterns were painted onto ships to distort their forms and confuse enemy submarines. The Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW, a U.K.-based art program, commisioned the painting of the John J. Harvey fireboat, which first launched in 1931 and helped the FDNY extinguish fires until it retired in the 1990s.
“With Flow Separation, I didn’t want to ignore the John J. Harvey’s identity, so I took the boat’s usual paint job and scrambled it. Dragged a comb through it,” Auerbach said. “The palette also exaggerates the fact that ‘dazzle’ was more about confusing and outsmarting, than about hiding.”