High Line Restaging 1971 Willoughby Sharp Show on Pier 54

Pier 54, New York. Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy Friends of the High Line.
Pier 54, New York. Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy Friends of the High Line.

A new public art exhibition organized by Cecilia Alemani, the director and curator of High Line Art, looks to revitalize the 104-year-old Pier 54, on the Hudson at West 13th Street, reports Gallerist.

Though the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea have changed dramatically in recent years, becoming home to high-end construction projects, luxury apartments, expensive restaurants, and exclusive clubs, Pier 54 has remained largely untouched. Rarely utilized, except during occasional special events, the 800-foot-long pier has been mostly closed since 2012, when the Hudson River Park Trust ruled that the structure was in danger of collapse.

For Alemani, the abandoned space called out to her as an opportunity to bring art to the Manhattan waterfront. “It is such an amazing pier,” she told Gallerist. “It has this wonderful metal framework at the entrance, and it’s where the survivors of the Titanic were brought. It’s a pier that is very rich in history, but now is just sitting there.”

Her exhibition, straightforwardly titled “Pier 54,” is an update to “Pier 18,” a 1971 show organized by artist and prolific curator Willoughby Sharp on New York’s Pier 18. Where Sharp enlisted 27 men, including Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Richard Serra, Alemani has countered with 27 female artists (see list below). As in the original show, the work will be largely performance-based, created without audiences, but will be thoroughly documented by photographer Liz Ligon.

“The idea of restaging it came because the piers have been such an important space for artistic experimentation in the past,” Alemani said.

The show will come together over the next few months, with Alemani accompanying artists to the pier as they each individually stage their works. The public gets their chance to experience the work later on, through a photo slideshow that will play this fall at High Line Channel 14, inside the park’s 14th Street passageway. A more traditional photo exhibition will also be on view elsewhere in the neighborhood, to Alemani’s delight. “I haven’t worked in a gallery space in so long, and I can hang pictures. It will make me so happy.”

The artists participating in “Pier 54”:

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


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