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Photo by Liz Ligon

Various Artists

Pier 54

November 2014 – January 2015
November 6 – December 13, 2014
Exhibition at 120 Eleventh Avenue at West 20th Street
Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
November 6, 2014 – January 14, 2015
Daily, beginning at 4:00 PM
14th Street Passage, on the High Line at West 14th Street

Featuring Leonor Antunes, Rosa Barba, Francisca Benitez, Carol Bove, N. Dash, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Liz Glynn, Sharon Hayes, Iman Issa, Liz Magic Laser, Margaret Lee, Maria Loboda, Marie Lorenz, Shana Lutker, Jill Magid, MPA, Virginia Overton, Leah Raintree, Emily Roysdon, Aki Sasamoto, Xaviera Simmons, Mika Tajima, Andra Ursuta, Sara VanDerBeek, Allyson Vieira, Marianne Vitale, and Anicka Yi

Photographs by Liz Ligon

High Line Art presents Pier 54, an exhibition conceived as a tribute to and a reaction against Pier 18, a legendary project organized by artist and curator Willoughby Sharp in 1971. For its original iteration, Sharp invited 27 artists to create an event or an action to take place on the abandoned Pier 18 in the Financial District of New York City. Artists responded in a variety of ways: some carried out performances, others created sculptures and installations or sent simple instructions for do-it-yourself works to be executed by someone else. All the events were photographed by artists Harry Shunk and János Kender, and subsequently exhibited in photographic form at the Museum of Modern Art in the summer of 1971. Among the participants – who, in keeping with a largely gender-biased art world at the time, happened to be all male – were Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mario Merz, Allen Ruppersberg, Richard Serra, William Wegman, and many others.

Both a re-enactment and an exercise in historical revisionism, Pier 54 took place during the summer of 2014 on Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 — a disused pier located at 11th Avenue and West 13th Street. The pier is visible from the High Line and preserves many historical memories and architectural vestiges of Manhattan’s West Side, a neighborhood that has been swiftly transformed in the past decades. High Line Art invited 27 contemporary artists — this time all women — to realize projects that respond to the location and engage with the changing landscape of the waterfront.

The original Pier 18 actions were never meant to be public performances: the various events and interventions were only staged for the camera and were documented by artist duo Shunk-Kender as a series of black-and-white photographs. The actions were recorded in a sequence of photographs to suggest the durational quality of these projects. Similarly, the events on Pier 54 were not open to the public, aside from unsuspecting passersby. At times invisible, other times raucous and subtly aggressive, the works and actions forming Pier 54 were captured by photographer Liz Ligon as a series of black-and-white photographic documentations, turning the actions themselves into a mysterious presence hidden in the fabric of the city.

Shunk-Kender’s photographs from Pier 18 will be on view at The Museum of Modern Art in the exhibition, Art on Camera: Photographs by Shunk-Kender, 1960–1971, May through October 2015.

Organized by Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator, with Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator.


Major support for Pier 54 comes from Teiger Foundation and Dorothy Lichtenstein.

Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional support from Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Special thanks to Hudson River Park Trust for the use of Pier 54.

In-kind support for Pier 54 is provided by the Haddad Family. Additional in-kind support is provided by Blick Art Materials; Laumont; The Standard, High Line; and Core Helicopters.