Intermittent Imprints (to walk along the river) is an installation and performance by Raul Ayala that unveils the neighborhood’s pre-colonial ecologies, with the waterway that once flowed through East 4th Street down to the East River acting as a reference point for considering our vital relationship to water in a time of rapidly advancing climate change.
The core intervention of Intermittent Imprints is a large-scale canvas painted by the artist, which includes representations of animals whose ties to water are considered sacred in various indigenous traditions of the Americas. This canvas will be hung to cover much of the building at 70 E. 4th Street, after taking it on an artist-led procession that traces some of the pre-colonial waterways around the block. In this procession, Ayala—donning personal protective equipment while playing Andean instruments typical to processional rituals—will lead a small group in wetting the banner with water from the East River, infusing it with the sacred liquid before it is hoisted and attached to the building façade, where it will be left to the elements until the exhibition closes.
This performative walk, partially inspired by Carolina Caycedo’s conception of geochoreography—a mode of political action that understands the land as part of one’s body, rather than apart from it—intends to activate the river and its tributaries in order to reaffirm water as a crucial public good. In channeling indigenous Andean knowledge and symbolism, ecological histories of Lenape land, and communal ritual, Intermittent Imprints seeks to acknowledge our deep, life-giving connections with our surroundings and reorient our understandings of the city to include what has been rendered invisible.