Photo of the Week: Blocks by Rashid Johnson

Photo by Scott Lynch

A caged composition of black steel grids and bright yellow busts, Blocks by Rashid Johnson has not only provided an organic foil to the natural landscape of the High Line, but also has become a favorite sight for High Line visitors. One quick tap on the High Line location tag on Instagram reveals a number of photos snapped by visitors admiring Johnson's work since its installation in May. These pictures also illustrate the sculpture's purposeful transformation into a living greenhouse as it interacts with the High Line's thriving vegetation and gradually integrates into the environment.

This photograph by Scott Lynch uniquely captures the structure and its surroundings, highlighting the contrasting colors, materials, and textures that make this project so striking. However, what makes this work so great—and what this picture allows us to see in greater detail—are the elements of Johnson's larger narrative that influenced the creation of this sculpture. Johnson's minimalist layered grids and variety of busts situated at different levels and angles reflects his ongoing interest in a line from Something to Put Something On, a book by Lawrence Weiner that explains the concept of "table" as "something to put something on." Drawing inspiration from these words, Johnson imagines the ways in which cultures, lives, and narratives mirror the table, as they are practices of putting things on top of other things that are assumed to be taken as given.

Next time you come by the High Line, note the sculpture's subtle assimilation into the greenery and its greater message about the relationship between landscape and structure, familiar objects and identity. It will make your visual experience—whether in real life or on social media—that much more pleasing.

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