A lifelong fascination with waterfront cultures and topographies has led Duke Riley to explore nautical history and the marginalized inhabitants of borderland regions in his art. Working as a fine artist and tattooist, Riley stages performances, installations, and videos that reenact historic moments in a contemporary context. Shorelines and areas where the land meets the water have typically been associated with crime, disease, danger, and people on the fringes of society, especially in urban landscapes. Riley confronts these historical associations head-on, as in the case of The Dead Head Horse Inn (2006), a temporary pub located on New York City’s off-limits Plumb Island, and United Islands of the East River (2006), a three-part video installation addressing colonization. Riley sees himself as a field naturalist, gathering artifacts and putting them on display, whether in the form of a map, sculpture, mosaic, or video.