Sarah Cameron Sunde, 36.5 / Bodo lnlet, Kenya, 2019

Sarah Cameron Sunde, 36.5 / Bodo lnlet, Kenya, 2019

September 14th, 2022 through January, 2023

36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is a series of performance works and video works created by Sarah Cameron Sunde that engage people on personal, local, and global scales in conversations about deep time and sea-level rise. It began with a poetic gesture – standing in water for 12 hours and 39 minutes while the tide rose and fell on her body – and has grown into a complex, collaborative, evolving series of works spanning seven years and six continents. By executing these works in seas around the world in both live and video form, Sunde invites those who  encounter the project to reflect on  our contemporary relationship to water, as individuals, in community, and as a civilization.

Each work in the series consists of deep community engagement, a live performance event, a time-lapse video, and a long-form cinematic video work from a different coastal location. For each:

“I travel to a location threatened by sea-level rise to stand in a tidal area for a full tidal cycle, usually 12-13 hours; water engulfs my body and then recedes again. The tide tracks time on my body viscerally, and functions as a metaphor for the changing environment. The water is my collaborator and the risks are real. I stay present in the sensations, attempt to embody the ocean and find a way to endure the struggle. The public is invited to stand in the water with me for however long they like and to participate in performing a series of physical gestures from the shore, creating a human clock that communicates to me each hour that passes.”  (Sunde)

“36.5 distills the turbulent emotions and conflicting attitudes surrounding climate change into a single, uncanny image: a human figure engulfed by a rising sea. It can signify courage as much as stubborn denial, resilience as much as madness, hope as much as suicidal despair. It can also engender a dialectic between these affective polarities, and become a space for contemplating the capacities and limitations with which we humans will face the rising tide of suffering that lies ahead of us.

Over time the collaboration between the artist and the sea has drawn in a major third collaborator: the community of local people at each site, whom she relies on for information, guidance, logistical support, communication, and participation.  The result models something urgently called for today: a ‘performative universalism’ that brings into existence a collaborative community which is both site-specifically rooted as well as dedicated to a future of cooperative planetary thriving.”

Una Chaudhuri, Dean for Humanities at NYU

36.5 / New York Estuary

September 14, 2022, 7:27am – 8:06pm (12 hours, 29 minutes)

The 9th and final work in the 36.5 series will include satellite performances from previous international locations in the Netherlands (2015), Bangladesh (2017), Brazil (2019), Kenya (2019), and Aotearoa-New Zealand (2020-22)..



36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is produced by Works on Water and is made possible through the many global collaborations and partnerships including The Climate Museum, Theater Mitu, New York University, NYU Skirball, Socrates Sculpture Park, Arts Brookfield, Riverside Park Conservancy, Newhouse Center of Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, RISE, Ma’s House, and Watermill Center.   

Funding for 36.5 / New York Estuary includes John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, MAP Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, Invoking the Pause, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Café Royal Cultural Foundation, Netherland-America Foundation, Citizens NYC Neighborhood Grant, Queens Council on the Arts, NYC Ferry, and the 36.5 team, advisors, and individual contributors.