You may know Duke Riley for public events and protest-based performance art that has included the first annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Havana, Cuba, declaring Belmont Island (that tiny slither of land in the East River facing the United Nations) a sovereign state during the 2004 RNC convention and navigating up to the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship in Red Hook in a replica of a primitive Revolutionary War submarine. A week from today, Riley’s latest project will turn the New York art world into a Roman Coliseum-sized food fight on water at the Queens Museum of Art.
The evening-length battle, Those About To Die Salute You, will occur in an old skating rink built at the QMA for the World’s Fair and lately used mostly as storage. The gladiators headed into battle (where they will wield baguette swords and hurl watermelon cannonballs) are staffers from the QMA, the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and El Museo del Barrio. Riley is designing the vessels (pictured) for the high seas adventure, some of which are made from reeds picked in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where the QMA is located. Click here for details, or head to the QMA Facebook page to RSVP to the free event (Thursday August 13, 6-9pm).