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High Line
FriendsWithYou’s Rainbow City, viewed from the High Line against the less-than-svelte skyline of midtown Manhattan’s West Side

NEW PUBLIC ART ON THE HIGH LINE

June 7, 2011

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The High Line, the elevated park that snakes through Manhattan’s Chelsea art district by 10th Avenue, has certainly been a success. Not only is it popular with the public, but according to city figures it’s a money-maker, too: the $115 million investment has prompted an astounding $2 billion in related economic activity (much of it in new luxury high rises along the greensward).

The second segment of High Line opens this week, stretching from West 20th to West 30th Streets, and featuring exotic plantings, park benches and even a sizeable stretch of grass lawn. And artworks, commissioned by the Friends of the High Line.

Most subtle is the vaguely creepy sound installation by Julianne Swartz, titled Digital Empathy, in which computerized voices emanate from drinking fountains, audible when the thirsty visitor leans over to drink. The voices recite romantic poetry and woo visitors with recorded assurances that they are loved and appreciated -- just in case a stroll in the park has people feeling isolated from their digital social networks.

At the northern terminus of the High Line, in a street-level lot, is an array of 40 brightly colored, oversized bubble-shaped balloon creatures, courtesy of the Miami collective FriendsWithYou. Rainbow City, June 8-July 5, 2011, the art duo’s first New York exhibition, is accompanied by a pop-up shop from installation sponsor AOL. FriendsWithYou’s grinning inflatables are also on display in a solo exhibition at The Hole gallery at 312 Bowery, June 9-Aug. 6, 2011.

Near the park’s West 20th Street entrance is Still Life With Landscape (Model for a Habitat), June 8, 2011-March 1, 2012, by MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient Sarah Sze. An airy structure of wood and stainless steel on either side of the park pathway, the sculpture doubles as a kind of nature conservatory, and includes bird baths, feeders and perches.

Finally, there’s a series of performances of Trisha Brown Dance Company’s 1971 Roof Piece, in which ten dancers mime one another’s movements from atop a circle of roofs surrounding the High Line. Performances take place June 9 at 7 p.m., June 10 at 7 p.m. and June 11 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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High Line
FriendsWithYou founders Sam Borkson and Tury Sandoval at their Rainbow City installation by the High Line