Karon Davis, Curtain Call (in production). Courtesy of the artist.
Next season’s public artworks include sculptures by Cosima von Bonin, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Karon Davis, and film works including the North American premiere of Zineb Sedira’s award-winning film Dreams Have No Titles
High Line Art, which organizes public art programming and installations displayed along the High Line, today announces its commissioned artworks and film programming for Fall 2023. High Line Art collaborates with an international array of artists— both emerging and established—to produce new artworks inspired by the unique setting of the park, presented on a rotating basis.
German artist Cosima von Bonin’s playful fish sculptures open the season, to be followed by a monumental fern enclosed in a glass structure by Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga in September. In October, Los Angeles-based American artist Karon Davis installs a larger-than- life ballerina bronze, her first public artwork in New York City. Organized by Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, each sculptural installation will be on view on the High Line for a full year.
In addition to the sculptural commissions, High Line Art will present two film exhibitions this fall as part of High Line Channels. The first is the North American premiere of Zineb Sedira’s film Dreams Have No Titles, which was awarded a special mention of the Jury for its presentation at the French Pavilion of the 2022 Venice Biennale. The second is a group exhibition called Dancing About Architecture, featuring films by artists Gerard & Kelly, Young-jun Tak, and Clarissa Tossin. Each exhibition screens every evening for two months, and was organized by Melanie Kress, former Curator of High Line Art.
In addition to these exhibitions, High Line Art will present a performance by Amsterdam-based artist Alexis Blake on September 5-7, 2023. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Cosima von Bonin WHAT IF THEY BARK? On the High Line at 17th Street September 2023 – August 2024
Cosima von Bonin brings her ongoing work WHAT IF THEY BARK? to the High Line, installing a group of anthropomorphic fish sculptures above the park’s iconic 10th Avenue Square. Assembled like a military band ensemble, the fish wear theatrical costumes, play musical instruments, and hold checkered missiles. Featured on the façade of the Central Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2022, von Bonin’s installation continues the artist’s long-running interest in marine life. This humorous composition recalls the statue arrangement of ancient Greek temples, but instead of gods and heroes here the artist places sea creatures on land interacting with one another and doing human activities such as playing music. The figures adorn the top of the railing of the Sunken Overlook as if playing a concert for visitors resting on the seating steps below, adding a playful element to the striking view up 10th Avenue.
Cosima von Bonin (b. 1962, Mombasa, Kenya) lives and works in Cologne, Germany von Bonin is a conceptual artist working across painting and sculpture. She is a collector—of found objects, materials, images, stories, and references that she assembles with irreverence and dark humor. While in her early paintings the artist used found fabrics to compose scenes populated with beloved Looney Tunes and Disney characters, in more recent sculpture installations she focuses on more generalized myths, historical figures, and pop culture references, from Pinocchio to Jacques Lacan. For many years, she created plush, colorful ocean creatures, a series of works that talks about the human destruction of the natural world found underwater.
Zineb Sedira Dreams Have No Titles On the High Line at 14th Street September 8 – November 1, 2023 Daily, starting at dusk
In 2022, Zineb Sedira won special mention of the Jury at the Venice Biennale for Dreams Have No Titles, her presentation for the French Pavilion. A multi-layered installation, performance, and film, Sedira’s pavilion told her own story of falling in love with film—first watching Italian epics and Spaghetti Westerns in the cinema Les Variétés with her father, which eventually leads her to visit the Algerian Cinémathèque, Algiers’ rich film archive. For the film, Sedira restaged scenes from many of her favorite famous films, including surprising collaborations and solidarities across Italy, France, and Algeria during the country’s fight for independence. Dreams Have No Titles addresses a major turning point in the history of cultural, intellectual and avant-garde production of the 1960s and 1970s in France, Italy, and Algeria. Her contribution also serves as a cautionary tale about the failure of an emancipatory promise which, for many people, remains an unfulfilled dream.
The presentation of Dreams Have No Titles on the High Line is the first exhibition of the film after the 59th Venice Biennale, and its premiere in North America.
In her films, photographs, installations, and performances, Zineb Sedira captures the spaces between people and places. Over 25 years, she has developed an artistic practice that explores transit and migration in its many forms, as well as storytelling about nation-states and their transformations. In her early film Mother Tongue (2002), Sedira portrayed three generations of women—herself, her mother, and her daughter—speaking about their childhoods in their different first languages of French, Arabic, and English. Sedira’s haunting photograph The Lovers (2008) shows two ships beached and rusting on the Mauritanian coast, a nod to all those who traverse the waterways between Africa and Europe. Throughout her work, Sedira is inspired by three countries: France, where she was born; Algeria, where her parents were born; and England, where she has lived for decades. Working across these countries and their colonial histories, Sedira highlights moments of resistance, both in the history of film in Algeria and in the concurrent resistance cinemas that grew alongside in Italy and France.
Kapwani Kiwanga On growth On the High Line at Little West 12th Street September 2023 – August 2024
For the High Line, Kiwanga presents On growth, a stone sculpture of a fern encased in a dichroic glass structure. The work references Wardian cases, the predecessor of the terrarium, which allowed plants to be transplanted to England from its colonies and for plants to continue to thrive amid London’s polluted air in the late 19th century. These enclosures resembled jewelry cases of the time and, similarly, protected botanic treasures from distant lands. On growth references the colonial histories of institutional and commercial botanic nurseries that influenced the scientific understanding of plants and horticulture of today. The dichroic glass of the sculpture transforms the light passing by the sculpture, creating shadows in shifting hues and shapes and creating a threshold between visible and invisible.
Kapwani Kiwanga is a conceptual artist working across film, performance, sculpture, and installation. Kapwani Kiwanga (b.1978, Hamilton, Canada) lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Through exhaustive research into topics including colonial history, social segregation, and marginalized stories, Kiwanga constructs artworks that tease apart power imbalances and the imperceptible nuances that comprise the aesthetics of power. Often grounding her projects in architecture, Kiwanga has created artworks that engage a wide variety of subjects including mono-crop agriculture in Tanzania, the oil and fracking industries, ceremonies related to key moments in African independence, and historical racist lantern laws from New England and New York. Her works are often grounded in architecture and horticulture; in her ongoing work Flowers for Africa, Kiwanga installs fresh arrangements of cut flowers that are replicas of bouquets visible in archival images of the inauguration ceremonies of African countries. In 2024, she will represent Canada at the 60th Venice Biennale.
Karon Davis Curtain Call On the High Line at 23rd Street October 2023 – September 2024
For the High Line, Karon Davis creates Curtain Call, a larger-than-life bronze portrait of a ballerina taking her final bow after a performance. The work is inspired by Davis’s childhood, growing up on stage, behind the scenes of dance and theater performances, and seeing the incredible labor, sweat, and perseverance that go into creating a perfect performance for the stage. Davis’s ballerina holds a bouquet of flowers that spills over toward the viewer. The work is part of a large and ongoing series of dancers Davis is working on called Beauty Must Suffer, at once a memory and an homage to her parents and sister, all of whom were professional dancers. The statue will be placed on the Prairie at 23rd Street, turning the architectural design of the High Line itself into a stage.
For her newest body of work Beauty Must Suffer, Davis traces the life and labor of ballet dancers, specifically paying homage to and celebrating Black dancers, from the first encounter with the barre to the final bow. The series is dedicated to Karon’s mother, Nancy, and sister, Naja, who were professional ballet dancers. Centering the relationship between dancers and the body as a vessel for performative storytelling, every sculpture in this series creates a modern ballet frozen in time. Curtain Call illustrates the culmination of the intense bodily effort a dancer puts into a captivating performance, and the appreciation of the physical pain endured for such beauty.
Los Angeles-based artist Karon Davis (b. 1977, Reno, Nevada) brings to life historical and allegorical figures in her signature white, wrapped plaster sculptures. Immersed in her parents’ worlds of theater and ballet as a child, Davis merges scenes taken from her personal life with historical events, myths, and ongoing political concerns in her installations. Taking up issues ranging from environmental disasters to the Civil Rights Movement, Davis shows us how politics, history, and myth are all performances that live in our collective imaginations.
Curtain Call’s installation on the High Line coincides with an exhibition of Davis’s work at Salon 94, opening October 12, 2023.
Dancing About Architecture Gerard & Kelly, Young-jun Tak, Clarissa Tossin November 2, 2023 – January 3, 2024 On the High Line at 14th Street
Daily, starting at dusk
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” is a common phrase used to express the futility of translating the experience of music into words. The film exhibition Dancing About Architecture shares works by three artists who, in turn, take up the challenge of dancing about architecture—of interacting with and interpreting the built environment through the human body. In theory, architecture is built to house and support the human body; however, architecture often comes up short, instead creating habitable monuments that express the identity of a nation-state, the grandeur of theoretical design ideals, or even the genius of an individual architect. Dancers and choreographers have a special opportunity to expose the true nature of these floors, ceilings, and walls, through expressive movement and narratives about the personalities of those who design the buildings we live in.
Young-jun Tak (b. 1989, Seoul, South Korea) lives in Berlin, Germany. In his work Wish You A Lovely Sunday (2021), Tak invites two pairs of choreographers and dancers to each realize a new dance for a different building in Berlin—one for the queer club SchwuZ and the other for the church Kirche am Südstern. On the day of their performance for the film, Tak swapped the pairs, transferring the dance designed for the club to the church, and the church-inspired dance to the queer club. The pairs’ navigation of this switch and final performances unfold with beautiful intimacy across the final film.
Brennan Gerard (b. 1978, Piqua, Ohio) and Ryan Kelly (b. 1979, Drums, Pennsylvania) formed their artistic collaborative Gerard & Kelly in 2003 to create performances, videos, and installations together. Their newest film Bright Hours (2022) portrays the rumored affair between iconic performer and artist Josephine Baker and modernist architect Le Corbusier, staged at Cité Radieuse, the Marseille housing complex he designed. The work continues Gerard & Kelly’s ongoing series of choreographies staged in icons of modern and historical architecture, Modern Living.
In Ch’u Mayaa (2017), Clarissa Tossin (b. 1973, Porto Alegre, Brazil) responds to the overlooked influence of Mayan architecture on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House by re-appropriating the building as a temple, and imbuing it with a dance performance based on gestures and postures found in ancient Mayan pottery and murals. Through the movement of a female dancer the house is re-signified as belonging to Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican architecture lineage. The title, translated as “Maya Blue,” refers to the ancient azure pigment found in Mayan pottery and murals, well known for being remarkably weather resistant and enduring the passage of time.
ABOUT HIGH LINE ART
Founded in 2009, High Line Art commissions and produces a wide array of artworks on the High Line, including site-specific commissions, exhibitions, performances, video programs, and a series of billboard interventions. Led by Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, and presented by the High Line, the art program invites artists to think of creative ways to engage with the unique architecture, history, and design of the park, and to foster a productive dialogue with the surrounding neighborhood and urban landscape.
For further information on High Line Art, please visit thehighline.org/art.
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.
Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support for High Line Art is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, The Brown Foundation, Inc., and Charina Endowment Fund.
High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams.
Alexis Blake, Crack Nerve Boogie Swerve is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, and with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund, the public cultural funding organization focusing on visual arts and cultural heritage.
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