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Arts & Cultural Events, Conversations

In Conversation: On Top of All This

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
5 – 8pm
On the Spur at 30th Street and 10th Avenue

Hear poems, fictions, prompts, and predictions from artists Lucas Crawford, Anaïs Duplan, and Emily Johnson as they navigate the past, present, and future of the land on which the High Line now stands. With identity and history in mind, the artists recorded sound-based experiences available to stream below. Listen from wherever you are or enjoy these recordings on a self-guided walk through the park; then, join us to gather on the High Line for an evening of conversation and reflection with the artists and other listeners.

From 5 – 6pm, we invite you to drop in and listen at your leisure to the artists’ audio reflections of the High Line. We’ll have headphones available. The program begins at 6pm with readings from the artists, followed by a conversation moderated by visual artist and organizer Rio Sofia.


This program is organized with Theodore (ted) Kerr, Brooklyn-based writer, organizer, and artist, whose work focuses on HIV/AIDS, community, and culture.

Audio Tracks

The High Line Scavenger Hunt, Audio Reflection for the High Line, 2019
Lucas Crawford

Lucas Crawford’s audio reflection consists of a reading from The High Line Scavenger Hunt, Lucas’s 2018 poetry book. Hear queer takes on the park’s plant species, protestations of the de-sexualization of the neighborhood, personal accounts of studying the High Line at Columbia University (spoiler: things don’t always go as planned), grounded considerations of the area’s racial and economic history and representations in popular culture, and more.

Lucas has a loud and somewhat dramatic voice that varies a lot in pitch and intonation. It’s sometimes interpreted as a man’s voice and sometimes interpreted as a woman’s voice. Lucas provides short and casual introductions to each poem, all of which is basic information about the High Line and/or New York that can be found online or in the Notes section of Lucas’s book.

Read a sample of Lucas’s book, which is a de facto transcript of the audio guide. Copyright of the author and provided with thanks to the University of Calgary Press.

Where Should I Look?: an audio guide, 2019

Anaïs Duplan

An Duplan’s audio reflections are rooted in specific places upon the High Line that provide not only a sense of physical space, but also a political and personal snapshot of the moment, from urban development to encountering the Statue of Liberty, from Palestine to the Piers and policing. Duplan delivers his prose with measured intent, with an even timber. Subtle sounds of the public back up Duplan’s audio. Download a transcript.

Untitled (So, there is this story I have been meaning to tell you for a really long time), 2019

Emily Johnson

Choreographer Emily Johnson asks, “If the ground below is stolen, which it is, is the air too?” The listener is invited to traverse land, sea, and air as they consider ownership, stewardship, interconnection, and collective care. Johnson delivers powerful prose, at times screaming, at times weeping, at times repeatedly asking the listener the same question, and at times leaving the listener in silence. One is invited to embrace the silences within the piece as content. This recording features emotional content and violent experiences.

Lucas Crawford is a poet, writer, performer and academic. His first academic book, Transgender Architectonics: The Shape of Change in Modernist Space (London: Routledge, 2016), proposes a new spatial rhetoric for conceiving of gender. This interest in design and gender has grown into a second book-length collection of essays that incorporates sites as diverse as public parks, hospitals, celebrity apartment renovations, poetry, short film, and rural locales—all in the service of defining transgender space as a matter much more complex than “access.” In recognition of this body of work, Lucas has been awarded the 2019 Arcus/Places prize by the College of Environmental Design at University of California, Berkeley. University of Calgary Press released Lucas’ third book, The High Line Scavenger Hunt, a book of poems that analyzes the history and redesign of the High Line. Lucas is from rural Nova Scotia and currently lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Anaïs Duplan is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (New York: Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016) and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Bloomington, Indiana: Monster House Press, 2017). His poems and essays have been published by Hyperallergic, PBS News Hour, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Bettering American Poetry, and Ploughshares. He is also the curator for the Center for Afrofuturist Studies (CAS), a residency program for artists of color based in Iowa City.

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in New York City. Originally from Alaska, Emily is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, history and role in community. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.

Her choreography has been presented across the United States and Australia. Recently she choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars. Her large-scale event, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all-night outdoor performance gathering that takes place among 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017, and will next be seen in Chicago, presented by Dance at Columbia College in September 2019. Her new work in development, Being Future Being, considers future creation stories and present joy and will premiere at Peak Performances in 2021.

Río Sofia is a visual artist and organizer. She has been working on a body of work that explores forced feminization porn, a genre that fantasizes about experiencing gender transformation through coercion and loss of control. She graduated recently from Cooper Union and is currently the Programs & Operations Coordinator at Queer|Art.

Audio recordings were generously supported by Red Bull Arts.

Hero images by Joel Sternfeld.


Major support for High Line Programs is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.

High Line Accessibility and Programs are supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.

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