Photo by Natiah Jones
The High Line announces that a new exhibition, The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths, is on now view through October 2, 2022 in the High Line’s 14th Street Passage. Through an immersive installation designed by April De Simone of the non-profit research and design agency Designing for Democracy, visitors are invited to explore the ways democracy shows up in our everyday lives, neighborhoods, and worlds. Organized as a past-to-present journey, the exhibition and related programming trace the policies, practices, and investments that shape how democracy is defined and experienced in our cities and the High Line in particular, and offer communities opportunities to connect through these experiences.
Everyday experiences can be viewed through the interconnected layers of culture, environment, economy, politics, and society. The Practice of Democracy offers perspectives on how these layers influence our buildings, streets, and open spaces and how they support or hinder a collective pursuit of democracy. Using New York City as a starting point, the exhibition illuminates a collection of local stories often muted or left out of history books. Through these stories and other tools, the exhibition encourages visitors to see themselves as agents of change in shaping healing, equity, and justice through the design and stewardship of our city’s spaces and systems.
‘‘This exhibition is dedicated to people like my mother, from yesterday and today whose experiences teach us the importance of standing up for the democratic values critical to our shared humanity,” said April De Simone, co-founder, Designing for Democracy. “It is such an honor to work with the High Line and countless others to engage a vast audience to explore how we practice democracy through our everyday actions.’’
‘‘The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths is an ever-timely reminder of the legacies and stakes of democracy in practice,’’ said Mauricio Garcia, Chief Program and Engagement Officer of the High Line. ‘‘This exhibition is a critical demonstration of how our systems and lived experiences influence our still evolving neighborhoods and cities, and the collective agency we hold to better support each other and to deliver on the idea of democracy.’’
The immersive exhibition, designed as a series of panels creating spaces for visitors within the 14th Street Passage, is organized into four parts: defining democracy and identifying how it shows up in our lives and environments; experiencing democracy, as understood through the systems of social and built environments and how they address and impact human needs, and as explored through stories from the High Line’s immediate communities; visioning democracy with a new framework and tools to create a way of thinking and acting that delivers on the promises of democracy, using local case studies as examples; and practicing democracy, offering practical examples from around the world and challenging visitors to actively practice democracy in their day-to-day lives and communities.
In addition to the immersive installation on the High Line, visitors can engage with The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths through supporting experiences and programming, including:
• An interactive digital experience: at key historical locations throughout the High Line, signs with short texts and QR codes to narrated stories of the neighborhood that delve into the concepts and stories explored in the 14th Street Passage exhibit serve as the entry points to an interactive digital experience. Designed to be listened to and explored on the go, the virtual exhibition platform shares the history of development and community action in Chelsea spanning centuries, as well as insights into the impacts of urban renewal and redlining, connecting visitors to the surrounding neighborhood’s history. A map of all the interactive signs on the High Line can be found at thepracticeofdemocracy.org .
• Summer Saturdays family workshops: on Saturdays July 16 and July 23, 2022, from 1 — 4pm, families are invited to drop in to envision the future of public space through creative hands-on activities inspired by The Practice of Democracy exhibition. Through 3D paper sculpture building techniques, visitors of all ages are invited to collaborate on the construction of a fold-topia, a reimagining of what shared public spaces can be. This collaborative sculptural city will challenge ideas of existing infrastructure and be a launch pad for ideas, visions, interests, and reflections. High Line family workshops are facilitated collaboratively by High Line teaching artists, Teen staff, volunteers, and visitor services associates.
• Teen-led community tours: between July and August 2022, High Line Teen Staff will lead weekly tours of The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths exhibition for partner organizations, community members and youth-serving programs. These invite-only tours are planned by Teen Staff and aim to bring a range of local constituents into dialogue over the spatial conditions of democracy.
High Line Teen Staff also collaborated with the exhibition organizers to narrate the neighborhood’s histories on the virtual The Practice of Democracy platform. This initiative offered High Line Teen Staff tangible experience working with audio production tools and valuable leadership opportunities leading community-facing tours.
Additional programming and details for The Practice of Democracy to be announced on thehighline.org.
About Designing for Democracy
Designing for Democracy is an independent non-profit research and design agency located in New Orleans and New York City, founded by Victor F. ‘‘Trey’’ Trahan, III, FAIA and April De Simone in 2021. Designing for Democracy investigates spatial infractions of democracy within the built environment, exploring the implicit relationship between architecture and society’s most pressing challenges. They work with an interdisciplinary consortium of diverse stakeholders, connecting a deeper understanding of how inequity, cultural hierarchy, and dehumanization become spatialized and proliferated.
CARNEVALE.co/op is an independent global experience agency of creatives, strategists, designers, technologists, and data specialists creating next-generation, user-centered experiences that better the world. In collaboration with Design for Democracy and the High Line, CARNEVALE.co/op designed and manages the exhibition’s virtual platform which offers curious visitors a platform to explore the exhibition’s stories and subjects in greater depth.
ABOUT THE HIGH LINE
The High Line is both a nonprofit organization and a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Through our work with communities on and off the High Line, we’re devoted to reimagining public spaces to create connected, healthy neighborhoods and cities.
Built on a historic, elevated rail line, the High Line was always intended to be more than a park. You can walk through the gardens, view art, experience a performance, enjoy food or beverage, or connect with friends and neighbors all while enjoying a unique perspective of New York City.
Nearly 100% of our annual budget comes through donations. The High Line is owned by the City of New York and we operate under a license agreement with NYC Parks.
The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths digital visitor experience is sponsored by and developed by CARNEVALE.co/op.
The physical exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts.
Major support for High Line Teens is provided by Jamie and Jeffrey Harris. Program support is provided by IAC Foundation.
High Line Teens is made possible, in part, with endowment funds from the DiamonsteinSpielvogel Foundation.
Major support for High Line Community Engagement Programs and High Line Teens is provided by Sarah Min and Matt Pincus and Denise Littlefield Sobel.
Major support for High Line Community Engagement is also provided by Susan and Stephen Scherr. Additional project support is provided, in part, by a grant from the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund.
Major support for High Line Education is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc.
High Line Programs, High Line Teens, and High Line Education, and accessibility are supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
The Practice of Democracy: We Hold These Truths exhibition is made possible, in part, by inkind donations from Buro Happold, Think Box Media, Inc., Evan Akselrad Architect + Engineer, and Trahan Architects.