While pigeons aren’t exactly greeted with open arms in New York — often fondly referred to locally as ‘rats of the sky’ — artist Duke Riley has found a way to elevate the common urban fowl via 'Fly by Night', a performance that has brought hundreds to the gates of Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, eager to catch a glimpse of the birds in action.
Taking a page from the historic tradition of pigeon fancying, Riley has trained a flock of over 2,000 birds to perform an elegant choreography, each with a small LED light adhered to their ankles to create a glittering display across the night’s sky.
Standing atop their coops, Riley and his collaborators wave large swaths of fabrics, guiding the birds through a series of practiced movements.
The event, which has been sold-out since before it opened has a waitlist of nearly 40,000, is now extended through 19 June, adding three additional performances to its run. Those interested in attending can reserve a ticket or become a member of Creative Time, the creative initiative that has helped organise numerous public art projects (including this one), to ensure two tickets to one of the final performances.
‘Creative Time is committed to helping artists realise their dreams, and Duke's dream was for Fly By Night to be his gift to New York,’ says Katie Hollander, Creative Time’s executive director. ‘We are grateful for the opportunity for more New Yorkers to experience its magic.’
Those less fortunate to snag a ticket can also view the spectacle from across the river at the East River Park Ampitheater.