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Photo by Carlos David

Carmen Papalia

Mobility Device

September 11 & 12, 2019

Wednesday, September 11
6:30pm performance begins at 34th Street, traveling south/east
7pm performance begins at the Spur at 30th Street, traveling north/west
The second performance will end at the gate to the Western Rail Yard on the High Line at 30th Street between 12th and 11th Avenues.

Thursday, September 12
7pm performance begins at Gansevoort Street, on street level under the High Line, traveling north
7:30pm performance begins at 16th Street, traveling south
The second performance will end on street level under the High Line at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets.

The performances will be introduced by Carmen Papalia and followed by a Q&A with the artist and performers.

Carmen Papalia is an artist and disability activist who uses organizing strategies and improvisation to navigate his access to public space, art institutions, and visual culture. His socially-engaged practice expresses his resistance of support options that promote ablest concepts of normalcy, like white canes and other impairment-specific accommodations that only temporarily bridge barriers to participation in an otherwise inaccessible, policy-based system. Papalia designs experiences that invite participants to expand their perceptual mobility and to claim access to public and institutional spaces.

For the High Line, Papalia presents Mobility Device, an innovative, collaborative performance in which he is accompanied by a marching band that plays a site-reactive score as guidance for navigating his surroundings. The work transforms the white cane—a symbol of someone with visual impairment—into a collective, sonic experience that opens up ways of thinking about care, collaboration, and a normative hierarchy of the senses. Papalia will bring Mobility Device to the High Line with the Hungry March Band, an 18-person ensemble founded in 1997 for the Mermaid Parade. With this work, he urges visitors to experience public spaces through the non-visual world.

Organized by Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator.

We encourage all persons with disabilities to attend. To request additional information regarding accessibility or accommodations at a program, please contact or (646) 774-2536. Program venues are accessible via wheelchair. The High Line is accessible via a ramp at 34th Street, and via elevators at 30th Street, 23rd Street, 14th Street, and Gansevoort Street in addition to stairs at the Spur, 16th Street, and Gansevoort Street. The second September 11 performance will end after sunset when the ramp off the High Line at 34th Street will be closed. The closest wheelchair-accessible exits are the ramp to Hudson Yards and the 30th Street elevator.

ASL interpretation, remote CART captioning services, and audio descriptions (via headset) are available for the performances. Those who are interested in using CART or audio description services, which will be coordinated by a High Line staff member on-site, are encouraged to arrive 10-15 minutes in advance. The link for CART captions is listed at the top of this page, and will go live 15 minutes before the performance begins.

Visitors are encouraged to follow behind the marching band during the performance, or they may choose to experience the performance as it passes them. The performance will move between areas that offer wider vantage points and those that are more narrow as the performance continues.
On Wednesday, the performance will pause and turn around at the Spur, which is a wide plaza area with seating, accessible from the elevator at 30th Street.
On Thursday, the band will pause and turn around at 17th Street/the 10th Avenue overlook, which has seating and ramp access. However, as the band and Carmen will be going up and down the ramp, we suggest experiencing the performance from the viewing deck above.

Artist bio

Carmen Papalia (b. 1981, Vancouver, Canada, unceded Coast Salish territory) lives and works in Vancouver. Papalia’s projects have been presented at institutions including Tate Liverpool, London, England (2017); The 8th Floor, New York, New York (2016); Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2016); and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York (2014). Papalia is the recipient of the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary from Shape Arts, London, England (2014) and the Wynn Newhouse Award (2013).


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. of Houston, and Charina Endowment Fund. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.