September 7 - October 6, 2010
Billboard east of the High Line at West 18th Street
"[Coltrane] went into this incredible discourse about the symmetry of the solar system, talking about black holes in space, and constellations, and the whole structure of the solar system, and how Einstein was able to reduce all of that complexity into something very simple. Then he explained to me that he was trying to do something like that in music..."
– David Amram, quoted in Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff
Demetrius Oliver 's Jupiter was installed on a 25-by-75-foot billboard adjacent to the High Line at West 18th Street. Jupiter featured five round photographs exposing mysterious acts and props, but lacking a human presence. In one photograph, a camera sat alone in a room in front of open violin cases placed in the windows. In another, the camera captured a group of closed umbrellas balancing upright on the edge of a bed. Set against a solid, black background, each photograph resembled a planet floating in a night sky, an association reinforced by how they appeared to be incrementally rotating in space.
Live musical performances and stargazing from the High Line accompanied the photographic element to expand the spatial dimension of Oliver's piece. Artist Blanche Bruce and multiple groups of student musicians performed "Jupiter" by John Coltrane on September 7, 18, 21, and October 2, 2010. Additionally, Oliver joined the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York on the High Line on September 21, 2010 to celebrate both the autumnal equinox and the Jupiter opposition–the day Earth passes between the Sun and Jupiter, making the distant planet most clearly visible. 2010's Jupiter opposition was the closest the planet has been to the Earth since 1951.
Jupiter combined the eclectic fields of photography, performance, science, and theater to celebrate John Coltrane and Albert Einstein's approaches to their respective fields. Oliver drew inspiration from Coltrane's approach to music and composition, which Coltrane described as similar to Einstein's approach to the universe and mysteries of physics. Both Coltrane and Einstein essentially tried to reduced great complexities into simple concepts.
Making connections both intuitive and methodical, Oliver's work bridged the seemingly disparate fields of music and astronomy, photography and theater. With this project, Oliver suggested that many things in the universe, on both a micro- and macro-scale, are dictated by cycles and rhythms. Oliver broke down the divisions between professionalism and amateurism, simplicity and complexity, time and space, and lead the viewer to think about what kinds of new creations can emerge when disciplines overlap.
This High Line Art Commission was presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. High Line Art Commissions are made possible by Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Additional support for Jupiter was provided by The Greenwall Foundation, with in-kind support from Edison Properties and Maharam. This program was supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.
About the Artist
Demetrius Oliver has had solo exhibitions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond; and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, among others. Additionally, his work has been included in group exhibitions at such venues as Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. He is the recipient of an award from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and his work is included in public collections at the Studio Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Henry Art Gallery; and the Blanton Museum of Art. He lives and works in New York City and is represented by D'Amelio Terras Gallery, New York  and Inman Gallery, Houston .
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