Up Late: A Conversation with Yael "KAT" Modiano & Ursula Scherrer

On July 21, as part of Friends of the High Line's first-ever Up Late event on the High Line, we're inviting visitors to roam the park after-hours and be transported as dancers, musicians, and visual artists illuminate the park with participatory performances, installations, and a world of hidden surprises.

Leading up to the event, we'll be sitting down with each artist contributing to the Up Late line-up to discuss what makes this event so unique—and why people shouldn't miss it. Be sure to check back here for more exclusive Q&As with Up Late artists.

Yael Acher "KAT" Modiano is a flutist and composer known for her energy-packed pieces that transcend a multitude of styles. For Up Late, KAT is partnering with Swiss multimedia and video artist Ursula Scherrer, who enthralls her audience by transforming ordinary places into abstract, dreamy, visual escapes. The artists invite Up Late visitors to enter their world of sound, color and feeling to form a unique meaning from their work.

Pictured: Yael Acher "KAT" Modiano. Photo by Supramod VD

Tell us a little bit about what you have planned for Up Late. What do you want attendees to take away from your performance/work?

YM: This multimedia, late-night, open-air performance aims to envelope its viewers/listeners/visitors with an urban ambiance and non-verbal contemplative dialogue. It's a kind of surreal correspondence between live sound, noise art, projected video art, and the High Line environment.

My electro-acoustic music is what I would consider hybrid or eclectic in nature. It employs a sound- palate attributable to different music genres, different cultures, and different cultural expressions (including Jazz, Western contemporary music, ritualistic music, and the spiritual music of indigenous cultures).

US: The video will illuminate the High Line headquarters from inside and outside alike, and will create a dialogue with Yael's music. There is no story to it, but I hope it inspires a thought, a dream, or a story in each viewer. Reflecting on the wonderful blend of nature with the urban environment on the High Line, I will use video footage of plants (some filmed on the High Line), as well as video of architecture and other geometric forms.

Ursula Scherrer Photo by Wolfgang Daniel

What makes the High Line as a venue unique or challenging to your work?

YM: The High Line is, for me, one of the city's most inspiring, free-spirited locations—not only because of its gorgeous urban gardening and design, or the spectacular city and river views, but also because of the social ideology behind it. Friends of the High Line resisted demolition of the structure—an act that would have brought financial benefits to only a few—and instead saved the structure, creating a free space solely for the public's recreational use. Therefore, the High Line is for me a symbol of humanistic and artistic progressiveness.

In addition, being elevated from street level, I feel that the High Line provides a safe locus for all its visitors—a place where they can walk, dream, observe, and contemplate. It's a perfect environment that inspires artists like us to create new work, perform, and share it with audiences and visitors on the High Line.

How does your work speak to the New York community?

YM: Since our work communicates intense yet meditative energy with unconventional, eclectic, non-verbal, and artistic universal messages, it can potentially speak to people of all ages and all walks of life. The performance aims to connect New Yorkers to their senses. In this specific time of turmoil, our work encourages a peaceful state of mind and thinking beyond socially constructed identity such as age, gender, and ethnic, racial, and economic differences. In that way, the performance embraces diversity, which defines the New York community.

We hope that Up Late visitors will be engaged in the performance since it will be constantly evolving: the audio and video will mix with the views of the Hudson River and the pulsating urban scenario of Manhattan's industrial and residential architecture.

Come see Modiano and Scherrer among many other artists who will be lighting up the night, on Thursday, July 21 on the High Line from Gansevoort to West 18th Streets from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM.

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