Looking Back on 2012

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As this year comes to a close, we would like to reflect on the 2012 milestones of High Line Art. Among the invading menagerie of animals and giants, we managed to diversify our program effectively turning the entire park into an outdoor gallery.

Over the past year, we have made a giant salad, found a $100,000 bill, and saw classic literature come to life. A truck full of bricks found a home next to the High Line, we brought mountains to the city while making friends with zebras, and lady fingers, not the kind you eat, crept up next to us like a surreal dream.

High Line Art Director & Curator Cecilia Alemani concocted these ideas both big and small in order to play with the accepted notions of public art. Why rely on purely monumental pieces when the High Line itself is a masterpiece? The lack of walls proved to be an exciting challenge and now hidden mysteries thrive in the foliage and mesmerizing videos adorn façades.

In order to accommodate this growing range of medium, High Line Art split into four components - BILLBOARD, CHANNEL, COMMISION, PERFORMANCE.

Anne Collier’s floating, ominous eye appeared during the month of February creating a visual playground with visitors. As spring rolled in, David Shrigley provided us with poignant humor to dissipate the winter blues and at the onset of summer Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s luxe anti-ad for Toilet Paper magazine appeared. Elad Lassry helped us say goodbye to the summer months with the girls who lived in a sea of green and we embraced fall by parking Thomas Bayrle’s classic Chrysler Sedan for all to see. Paola Pivi’s zebras will ring in the New Year as a testament to the beauty in uncanny thinking.

The ability to pause and watch a film while strolling along the High Line became a prominent activity during 2012. We started this series with Gordon Matta-Clark in order to commemorate his architectural legacy in a contemporary landscape. Jennifer West’s experimental films imbued the grey winter months with vibrant color and a film series curated by Lisa Oppenheim and Mike Sperlinger reminded visitors of the complexity of New York City.

Sturtevant reminded us of two art world icons - the Empire State Building and Andy Warhol before HIGH LINE CHANNEL 22 took a two month hiatus. Coming back in full force, High Line Art launched HIGH LINE CHANNEL 14 and celebrated the John Cage centennial with his dream like composition and Cinthia Marcelle reminded visitors of the beauty in the mundane. We hoped to end the year with the hauntingly poetic works of Oscar Munoz and Guido van der Werve, but due to electrical damage caused by Hurricane Sandy they are currently suspended until the new year.

Sounds and sculpture are now common place vistas along the promenade. Uri Aran’s invisible zoo turns a portion of the High Line into a jungle while the first-ever group exhibition Lilliput turns the park into a haven for small creatures. As a foil to these miniatures, Thomas Houseago’s headless giant appeared between the train tracks and in an unexpected turn of events, Virginia Overton’s truck became a new-age wishing well.

The infamous blps of Richard Artschwager appeared along the High Line in our collaboration with the Whitney. In contrast to these subtle stickers, El Anatsui’s colossal piece adorns an adjacent building. As the biggest High Line Art Commission to date and the largest work for the artist, Broken Bridge II exemplifies our growth and illustrates our desire to bring art into the public domain.

Performances have found a unique stage on the High Line and we were lucky to restage three iconic works from the 1960s and 70s. Alison Knowles celebrated Earth Day with us by encouraging strangers to share a salad. Channa Horowitz reminded viewers of the complexity of feelings and words while Simone Forti showcased the beauty of chance through experimental dance. To wrap up the performances of 2012 a day long performance by Jennifer West connected our local community with national and international visitors by encouraging playful art engagement. 

With hellos always come goodbyes and this year we also bid farewell to some beloved High Line Commissions. We were sad to see Sarah Sze’s popular sculptural drawing that doubled as bird houses taken down. The soothing sounds of Julianne Swartz’s piece no longer greet us at the fountains, elevators, or bathrooms. We miss them dearly, but remember them fondly.

We hope you enjoyed 2012 as much as we did. After looking back at this momentous year, we can now look forward to 2013!

- Kirsten Nicholas

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Tomoaki Suzuki, Carson. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Sarah Sze, Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat). Photo courtesy the artist | Jennifer West, Selected Works. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Eyeballing film series. Photo by Austin Kennedy | David Shrigley, How are you feeling? Photo by Austin Kennedy | Sturtevant, Warhol Empire State. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Francis Upritchard, The Seduction. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line |  Alison Knowles, Make a Salad. Photo by Liz Ligon | Channa Horwitz, Poem/Opera, The Divided Person. Photo by Liz Ligon | Thomas Houseago, Lying Figure. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Simone Forti, Huddle. Photo by Liz Ligon | Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari for Toilet Paper. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Elad Lassry, Women (065, 055). Photo by Austin Kennedy | Jennifer West, One Mile Parkour Film. Photo by Michael Seto | Virginia Overton, Untitled. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Cinthia Marcelle, Selected Works. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Thomas Bayrle, American Dream. Photo by Austin Kennedy | El Anatsui, Broken Bridge II. Photo by Austin Kennedy | Paola Pivi, Untitled (zebras). Photo by Austin Kennedy | Oscar Munoz, Re/trato. Photo by Austin Kennedy