South Street Seaport Museum Announces “whale fall abyss” by mayfield br

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Michelle Tabnick
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Things to do near New York, NY » Theater » Drama

As part of the 23rd annual River To River Festival, the South Street Seaport Museum is partnering with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to host artist mayfield brooks for their work entitled “whale fall abyss.Sign up today to join us for this immersive theatrical experience that will take the audience throughout the 1885 tall ship Wavertree, into the depths of maritime history, and prompt the audience to consider the nature of decomposition through the lens of whale fall.


Wavertree is the last remaining iron-hulled three-masted full-rigged cargo ship. The vessel spent most of her 24-year sailing career carrying various cargoes worldwide before being dismasted in a storm. Following this, she functioned as a floating warehouse in Chile and was repurposed as a sand barge in South America before she was thoughtfully restored by the South Street Seaport Museum. Though Wavertree was never a whaling or slave ship, brooks’s performance artfully conjures the broader maritime narrative, calling up ghosts and ancestors from the intersecting histories of whalers and slave ships.


Accompanied by electronic cellist Dorothy Carlos and performer Camilo Restrepo, brooks will expand on their 2023 performance, which also took place on Wavertree, and is a culmination of brooks’ project Whale Fall, originally commissioned by Abrons Arts Center and virtually premiered as an experimental dance film in 2021.


Advanced registration is suggested for this free event but walk-ups will be accommodated as possible. Please note that the audience will not be seated during the performance and will actively move throughout the ship. Access to Wavertree for this program involves climbing a few stairs, walking up an angled gangway, and descending a few stairs onto the deck. The lower decks are accessible via stairs, while the upper deck requires navigating steep ladder-like stairs. Doors open at 6:30pm.


About the Artist

Choreographer mayfield brooks presents two works as part of LMCC’s River to River Festival in 2024–”whale fall abyss” in the cargo hold of Wavertree, and “whale fall reckoning” in the Upper Gallery of The Arts Center at Governors Island. Using found objects, sound, light, movement and projection, brooks conjures an abyssal underwater world that transforms the formerly munitions storage warehouse into an imagined site of the decomposed whale.


Both presentations are a culmination of brooks’ project Whale Fall. After four years of rigorous research and numerous iterations, brooks’s ever evolving project continues to decompose itself. This iteration lives as a call to the wild parts of ourselves, a denouement to complacent attitudes towards death and decay. How are we entangled in the ruse of romance with our compulsion to consume and our dependence on war machines? Why do we continue to kill? How can the whale fall reorient us to face our own mortality with more compassion? brooks considers the whale fall as a reckoning. They imagine their ancestor’s bones mingling with whale bones beckoning us to embrace interspecies care and relation beyond the human. Perhaps we can save the whales, ourselves, and the planet if we simply decompose.


mayfield brooks is part of LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development Program supported, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Presented in partnership with the South Street Seaport Museum.


Extend Your Visit

Access to Wavertree is included with your event ticket. To extend your visit and see more that the Museum has to offer, ask Museum staff about our Pay What You Wish General Admission tickets when you check in. Before or after your event, between 11am–5pm, get Pay What You Wish General Admission tickets to see more of the Museum.

General Admission includes access to all current exhibitions on view in the introduction gallery space at 12 Fulton Street and access to the 1885 tall ship Wavertree. Free timed tickets for a tour of the 1908 lightship Ambrose are available separately at no additional cost.


About the South Street Seaport Museum

The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working 19th century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.”




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Street Address

12 Fulton St
New York, NY 10038


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