After collecting and reviewing 80 proposals from a wide range of artists nominated by an international advisory committee, High Line Art has shortlisted 12 proposals for further consideration for the third and fourth High Line Plinth commissions. The selected proposals are by artists Iván Argote, Nina Beier, Margarita Cabrera, Nick Cave, Banu Cennetoğlu, Rafa Esparza, Teresita Fernández, Kapwani Kiwanga, Lu Pingyuan, Pamela Rosenkranz, Mary Sibande, and Andra Ursuţa.
The artists hail from five continents, coming from Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, and throughout the United States. They bring a range of perspectives, with proposals that touch on colonialism, climate change, human rights, spirituality, and the natural world.
An exhibition of sculptural models of their proposed artworks will be exhibited on the High Line beginning in January 2021. Two out of the 12 shortlisted proposals will be selected as the third and fourth High Line Plinth commissions, to be installed in 2022 and 2024 respectively. Each Plinth commission will be on view for 18 months.
The Shortlisted Artists & Proposals
Iván Argote (b. 1983, Bogotá, Colombia) lives and works in Paris, France. Dinosaur is a giant, realistically-painted aluminum pigeon realized at the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The humorous sculpture challenges the grandeur of traditional monuments, as well as the banality projected onto the iconic New York City street bird. In fact highly intelligent and witnesses to the rise of the modern city, pigeons can become a metaphor for our ever-changing relationship to the natural world.
Nina Beier (b. 1975, Aarhus, Denmark) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Women & Children is a fountain composed of generic found bronze sculptures of women and children, depicted in the nude as in historical convention. The sculptures’ cascading, cartoonish tears reference the Fountain of Vision at the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary in Portugal, and point to the weakness and excess emotion projected onto women and children as subjects.
Margarita Cabrera (b. 1973, Monterrey, Mexico) lives and works in El Paso, Texas, United States. UPLIFT New York comprises a flock of birds modeled on papel picado wings with the bodies of chopped-up confiscated firearms; Cabrera proposes art-making workshops with local immigrant and gun control groups that would then inform the final sculpture. This collaborative work references the violence of the US/Mexico border and ongoing gun violence across the US.
Nick Cave (b. 1959, Fulton, Missouri, United States) lives and works in Chicago, Illinois, United States. A·mal·gam is a monumental new sculpture derived from Cave’s first soundsuit, made in response to the Rodney King incident of 1991. The bronze work is cast from found tree branches, vintage toile flowers, ceramic birds, and the artist’s own hands. The sculpture acts as a community beacon to celebrate the power of each of us as unique individuals defined by our differences.
Banu Cennetoğlu (b. 1970, Ankara, Turkey) lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. In right?, Cennetoğlu’s proposed sculpture, the artist writes each article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, in letter-shaped balloons. Rendered in gold Mylar balloons and filled with helium, each article will be on view for 18 days; throughout the 18 months, the entire declaration will be on view with changing constellations. Inevitably, the balloons wilt between changes, suggesting the contrast between a declaration and its realization.
Rafa Esparza (b. 1981, Los Angeles, California, United States) lives and works in Los Angeles, California, United States. KT Hyperspace is an Olmec monument distorted as if on the edge of a wormhole. The work is made from the artist’s family’s adobe recipe, mixed with soil from the KT boundary, the thin geological boundary that marks the break between the Cretaceous and Paleogene period, commonly known as the moment when dinosaurs—and most other life forms on the planet—went extinct.
Teresita Fernández (b. 1968, Miami, Florida, United States) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, United States. Maelstrom depicts a group of glistening, wind-battered palm trees. The trees stand as a metaphor for the enduring violence and devastation of colonization in the Americas, which began in the Caribbean. Fernández inverts the simplistic and exoticized clichés of the Caribbean and of palm trees themselves, which are often inappropriately associated with tropical paradise and leisure. Instead, Fernández poses questions about land, power, and decolonization.
Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978, Hamilton, Canada) lives and works in Paris, France. On growth (working title) is a stone sculpture of a fern encased in a dichroic glass structure. The work references Wardian cases, the predecessor of the terrarium, which allowed for plants to be transplanted to Europe from overseas and for plants to continue to thrive amid London’s polluted air.
Lu Pingyuan (b. 1984, Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China) lives and works in Shanghai, China. Tree is a sacred, ancient mountain pine tree as an anthropomorphic cartoon. The work draws on Asian literature traditions, where pine trees growing on steep cliffs often symbolize independence, monasticism, tenacity, longevity, and hospitality.
Pamela Rosenkranz (b. 1979, Uri, Switzerland) lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. Old Tree is a bright red and pink tree that animates the ancient tales of a tree of life as a connector between heaven and earth; its color evokes the branching systems of human organs, blood vessels, and tissue, inviting viewers to consider the indivisible connection between human and plant life.
Mary Sibande (b. 1982, Barberton, South Africa) lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. Sibande’s proposal Old wars are out and a new reason of humanity is in recreates the pedestal that elevates a bronze statue of the Dutch colonial navigator, Jan Van Riebeek, in Cape Town. His arrival marked the beginning of European settlers in what is now South Africa. In Sibande’s sculpture, the statue is absent, and the crumbling pedestal is pecked by red chickens. To the artist, the engine fueling this profoundly belated, but still welcome movement can be described by an isiZulu term “uyanqawuza,” or pecking like a hen: the man-made pedestals for the glory of men are crumbling to make way for new ideas.
Andra Ursuţa (b. 1979, Salonta, Romania) lives and works in New York, New York, United States. Broken Obelisk is a hollow cast-glass sculpture of an anthropomorphic obelisk bent into a seated position. The translucent monument resembles a lingering ghost hovering at the edge of visibility.
Major support for the High Line Plinth comes from the High Line Plinth Committee, a group of contemporary art leaders committed to realizing major commissions and engaging in the public success of the Plinth.
Support for the High Line Plinth is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Elizabeth Belfer, Suzanne Deal Booth, Fairfax Dorn, Steve Ells, Kerianne Flynn, Andy and Christine Hall, Hermine Riegerl Heller and David B. Heller, J. Tomilson and Janine Hill, The Holly Peterson Foundation, Annie Hubbard, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Amanda and Don Mullen, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Douglas Oliver and Sherry Brous, Mario Palumbo and Stefan Gargiulo, Susan and Stephen Scherr, Susan and David Viniar, and Anonymous.