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Apparently, al Qaeda hates high art, too.

Security rules put in place since 9/11 have forced the high-concept art project "Floating Island" to vacate much of the East Side while the U.N. General Assembly meets.

The manmade barge-turned-island - the brainchild of late conceptual landscape artist Robert Smithson - has not been going north of 23rd Street since it started plying New York's waterways last Saturday.

Instead, the project's organizers have had the tugboat pulling the 30-by-90-foot tree-covered "island" spending more time in the harbor around Battery Park.

"The security of the city is the most important thing. I would hope people in the northern areas of New York would adjust," said Diane Shamash, of Minetta Brook, the nonprofit contemporary-arts organization that built the island.

"It is still very visible from many areas of the city."

The exhibit will revert to its original route - floating all the way up to Harlem - for its final days this weekend, Shamash said.

The artist conceived of the project in 1970, but was never able to see it realized before he died three years later in a plane crash at age 45.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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