Rising-Star Artist Meriem Bennani Will Create a Mobile Sculpture for New York’s High Line This Summer

The public sculpture has been co-commissioned with Audemars Piguet Contemporary, and will remain on view for one year.

Artist Meriem Bennani. Photo: Farah Al Qasimi.

The High Line—New York’s historic elevated rail line turned public park—just announced a major new public art commission from the Morocco-born, Brooklyn-based artist Meriem Bennani. Entitled Windy (2022), it is set to be unveiled this June and will remain on view through May 2023. The work is produced in collaboration with Audemars Piguet Contemporary, the luxury Swiss watchmaker’s contemporary art program.

Bennani is known for her farcical video and multimedia works that comment on the absurdities of human behavior, both online and IRL. Her animated series 2 Lizards (2020)—a playfully absurdist take on life in quarantine that she created with filmmaker Orian Barki—went viral early on during lockdown.

Often, the artist’s videos are housed within sculptures; you could even sit inside the spaces she created for the 2019 Whitney Biennial to watch a fake reality show about teenagers in her birthplace of Rabat.

Meriem Bennani, <em>Pony Tail</em> (2019), screening <em>MISSION TEENS: French school in Morocco</em> (2019), installation view in the Whitney Biennial 2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

Meriem Bennani, Pony Tail (2019), screening MISSION TEENS: French school in Morocco (2019), installation view in the Whitney Biennial 2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

This will be Bennani’s first public sculpture as well as her first standalone sculpture without a moving image component, marking a shift in her larger art practice. With Windy, she will comment on the experience of walking on the High Line through the mechanics of the sculpture itself.

“In developing the concept for Windy, I knew it could not be a static sculpture but needed to echo the dynamic and constant movements of the High Line,” the artist said in a statement. “I wanted to play with New York City’s energy after the past couple years which alternated between engaging with it and carefully hiding from it.”

She added, “I wanted to try something that presented me with new conceptual and technical challenges to expand my understanding of sculpture, moving image, and the creative possibilities of their shared interaction.”

A view of New York's High Line. Photo: Timothy Schenck.

A view of New York’s High Line. Photo: Timothy Schenck.

High Line Art’s mission is antithetical to hiding—since 2009, it has been commissioning site-specific exhibitions, performances, even billboard interventions to bring art to the millions of tourists and New Yorkers who visit it every year.

Benani’s project marks the High Line’s first public sculpture co-curated and co-commissioned with Audemars Piguet Contemporary. Since its founding in 2012, the contemporary art program of luxury Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has commissioned high-profile works from a range of international artists like Ryoji Ikeda’s recently concluded “Data-Verse” trilogy.

In a statement, curator Audrey Teichmann said, “We are so pleased to collaborate with Meriem in her hometown of New York City on a sculpture that brings her work from the digital sphere to the public domain and represents a new chapter in her artistic practice.”

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