When the vulnerability of our species is being tested, how do we respond?

NYC-based interdisciplinary artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s response to Hurricane Sandy, was to spend the last nine years traveling to tidal planes around the globe to create 36.5 / A Durational Performance with The Sea – a simple but profound time-based artwork where she stands in a tidal plane for a full cycle and invites the public to join.

Evolving organically, from one community’s invitation to the next, 36.5 has grown into a robust network of artists, activists, indigenous stewards, academics, and concerned/curious citizens in Maine, Mexico, San Francisco, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, and Aotearoa-New Zealand. On September 14, 2022, Sarah performed the final work in the East River, New York Estuary in Astoria, Queens, and this is the focus of our short film.

The story will interweave the planning and production process with Sarah’s reflections on creating 36.5 in her home city and tidal plane and lessons learned over the past nine years. We will also hear from her collaborators – those in Astoria and those who traveled from around the globe.

The style of the film will be grounded in behind the scenes footage and interviews, with Sarah as the main narrator. Visuals and audio of the city and East River will immerse the viewer in both the natural and built worlds. The durational performance footage will create interludes of stillness and reflection, inviting New Yorkers to reflect on their own precarious relationship with the sea.

– Gretchen Burger, Filmmaker

Highlights from 36.5 / New York Estuary:

  • A site-specific, community-engaged process: Sarah and NYC collaborators gathered at the water’s edge every month to build Kin To The Cove, a site-specific community-powered environmental public art process that connects local residents to the Cove and Water that surrounds NYC. This process built a team of 36.5 participants while building relationships with the water, imagining a healthier future, and committing to future stewardship of the site.
  • The live performance which took place in the Cove on Vernon Blvd at 31st Ave, where Astoria meets Long Island City. Sarah stood in water for one full tidal cycle, inviting the public to join her by standing in water and/or marking the passing of hours from shore as “the human clock.” Artist collaborators created interventions and installations to amplify the performance. Viewing stations around the Cove, on Roosevelt Island and Upper East Side, Manhattan allowed audiences to gather from various viewpoints.
  • Simultaneous international performances took place at previous 36.5 locations: the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Aotearoa-New Zealand, with core collaborators organizing relay performances events at the sites where the project initially took place.
  • Livestream of this final performance was broadcast online, outdoors and into venues in and around all five boroughs of New York City, around the country, and the world. Footage from the global performances were layered-into the live-stream feed.
  • The durational video artwork was created at the same time. Three film cameras will capture the entire performance in real-time with two more documented the entire scene along with three photography cameras. Within 10 days, this footage was edited into a durational video work (same length as the performance: 12 hours, 39 minutes) and ready to premiere on site so the collaborating community could see it first.


Filmmaker: Gretchen Burger

Lead Artist:  Sarah Cameron Sunde

Cinematographer: Erick Stoll

Additional NYC Camera Work: Saiful Wadud Helal, Joe, Bender, Todd Leatherman, Tray Tsui, Johnathan Harrington, Samantha Schutz, Cosmo Sweeney, Mark DiConzo

International/Previous 36.5 Locations Camera Work:  Jordan Muindi, Mairi Gunn, Ian Powell, Guilherme Burgos, Jonas de Witte, Saiful Wadud Helal, Shahriar Shaon, Irina Patkanian & Gus Ford, Scott Brown, Maridee Slater

Composer / Sound Design: Joshua Dumas

Made possible with support from:
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
MAP Fund
Invoking the Pause
Netherland-America Foundation
36.5 team, advisors, and individual contributors

You are invited to participate in all aspects of this work!  If you’d like to help sustain the legacy of 36.5 and play a role in making this documentary happen, please be in touch and we’ll send you more information!