Three new art exhibitions will open on April 23 at the New York City High Line. These commissions include both international artists and New York natives alike with shows that prove the art scene at the High Line has quickly earned a coveted spot among the city’s already bustling arts culture.
What is the NYC High Line?
York is known for its world-renowned public parks and since 2009, the High Line has been added to the list. Built on a historic train rail that rises above the streets of Manhattan’s west side neighborhoods, it was saved from demolition with the help of passionate locals and transformed into a space for art, nature, and design for all to enjoy.
The first trains crossed this elevated high line in 1933 but by the 60s most of the southern portion of the tracks had been demolished with more coming down in the 90s. Then, in 1999, Friends of the High Line was founded and the rest is history.
High Line Art was founded alongside the opening of the park and there are exciting installments going up all the time. Coming up in April, three new commissions are scheduled to be on show throughout the NYC High Line: The Musical Brain, Retainer, and 56 Forms of Liberty.
The Musical Brain
A group art project featuring the work of Rebecca Belmore, Vivian Caccuri, Raul de Nieves, Guillermo Galindo, David Horvitz, Mai-Thu Perret, Naama Tsabar, and Antonio Vega Macotela, The Musical Brain is an outdoor exhibition exploring the uniting power of music.
But, it’s not a musical exhibition in the way you might expect. Melanie Kress, the associate curator for High Line Art told ArtNews:
“Usually when you think of a sound or music show, you don’t necessarily visualize objects or sculptures,” Alemani said. “But we made an effort to have a physical presence because we realized that, if you were to do, like, just a sound show on the High Line, the audience would miss half of it because it’s already so loud. So we invited artists to really think of sculptural embodiments of sound and music.”
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Named after the short story by Cesar Aira, the exhibit will play on how music helps us understand the world around us. By listening closely to the sonic sounds that the world naturally produces, the artists will be looking at the temporal, social, historical, and sculptural aspects of music and the way we listen.
The Musical Brain will be located throughout various areas along the High Line from April 2020 to March 2021.
Pulling straight from everyone’s bedside table in our teenage bedrooms, Hannah Levy creates a giant orthodontic retainer for the High Line and it’s both comical and interesting. In fact, it isn’t her first oversized dental accessory. Levy has an entire series of retainer pieces carved out of marble and stainless steel.
Culturally, straight, white teeth are a sign of status, largely due to the sheer cost of quality orthodontics like braces and retainers. This sculpture is a reminder of this odd symbol we use to express our social standing to others.
Retainer becomes a part of the High Line’s architecture which reaches the size of the park’s hand railings, both blending in and standing out among its surroundings. The piece fits right in with Levy’s previous work which is often anthropological structures that interact with the urban environments in which they live.
Retainer will be located on the High Line at 23rd Street from April 2020 to March 2021.
57 Forms of Liberty
57 Forms of Liberty is a huge structural piece in the artist’s signature style. Ibrahim Mahama is known for his large-scale installations with objects he finds in various places to comment on the inherent movement of goods and people around the world.
This piece consists of an upside-down industrial tank from North Carolina with a tree growing out of the top. Inspired by a rusted smokestack he’s seen in his home country of Ghana, Mahama also aimed to mimic the torch held by the Statue of Liberty (hence the name of the work) which stands just south of the High Line park.
It’s an interesting interpretation of what naturally happens to the structures we build, especially when they’re later abandoned.
57 Forms of Liberty will be located on the High Line at 16th Street from April 2020 to March 2021.
Visit the High Line
There’s something for everyone at the High Line and art lovers can have a full day at the public park. Although it’s already more than a decade old, it may not top the list for first-time New York City tourists but it definitely should because the High Line is a must-see.
Plus, the High Line also provides important public programs that encourage teen and community engagement. Not to mention, all of these art exhibitions are totally free for everyone to enjoy.
From incredible art pieces to food spots and nature walks, there’s a lot to do and experience. Stretching 1.45 miles across the west side of Manhattan, it’s nice to consider that the High Line itself is a work of art.
Who would’ve thought that an old, elevated railroad track could become such a cultural hub that has quickly found its way into the hearts and souls of New Yorkers and visitors?