Chicago artist AMANDA WILLIAMS proposes Sandra’s refuge: Safe Passage for Free Movement in Public Space for the High Line Plinth.


THE PUBLIC WILL HELP DECIDE the artists chosen for two forthcoming installations on the High Line Plinth in New York City. An international advisory committee nominated 80 artists from 40 countries who submitted proposals. Nearly 20 Black artists are among those vying for the projects, including Phoebe Boswell, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Allison Janae Hamilton, Kapwani Kiwanga, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Gary Simmons, and Amanda Williams. A shortlist will be announced in fall 2020. The High Line curatorial team’s selections will be influenced by public comments and feedback.

Once an elevated freight railroad track, the High Line was transformed into a linear pedestrian greenway in 2009. It’s about 1.5 miles long on the Westside of Manhattan, stretching from Gansevoort Street up to 34th Street, primarily along 10th Avenue. The High Line has a robust art program with a variety of rotating installations on view throughout the popular public park.

“Brick House” by Simone Leigh was the first work commissioned for the Plinth, which is a central destination on the Spur, the newest section of the park located at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue.

A monumental vision of Black female subjectivity, Leigh’s 16-foot-tall sculpture blends architectural forms and figuration. “Brick House” opened to the public in June 2019, but has been inaccessible in recent months due to the park’s temporary closure in the wake of COVID-19. Scheduled to be on view through Spring 2021, the installation remains off limits. (The High Line reopened July 16. However, sections of the park north of West 23rd Street, including the Spur, remain closed.)

The second Plinth commission will be announced in the coming months. Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines is among the group of shortlisted artists that remains under consideration.

Nearly 20 Black artists are vying for the forthcoming Plinth commissions. The selection of artists for the shortlist will be influenced by public comments. Feedback is open through the end of September 2020.

The new slate of artists is competing to be selected for the third and fourth commissions, which will be on view in 2022 and 2024. Their proposals explore a range of issues and concepts.

Chicago-based Williams proposes “Sandra’s refuge: Safe Passage for Free Movement in Public Space,” an illuminated sculpture that “imagines what it would be like for Harriet Tubman to provide a lantern for Sandra Bland’s safe passage, connecting the many similarities between the two figures’ stories.” A statuesque terrarium, Paris, France-based Kiwanga’s “On growth” (working title) is envisioned as a fern encased in a dichroic glass structure.

“Boom!” by Los Angeles-based Simmons is a 3-D cartoonish exploding blob made from bronze. A 40-foot tower with decorative railings, Angola-based Kiluanji Kia Henda‘s “An Ode to Segregation” references the ironwork used to secure the homes of the wealthy in Luanda, Angola.

Each of the proposals is available online and comments can be submitted directly on each page through the end of September 2020. Nearly 20 Black artists from around the world are in contention. View their proposals below. CT


UPDATE (11/18/20): High Line announces 12 shortlisted proposals for third and fourth Plinth commissions. Group includes Nick Cave, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Mary Sibande.


Born in 1980, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa


PHOEBE BOSWELL | Do We Muse on the Sky or Remember the Sea
Born in 1982, Nairobi, Kenya. Lives and works in London, England


NICK CAVE | A·mal·gam
Born in 1959, Fulton, Mo. Lives and works in Chicago, Ill.


Born in 1955, Somerville, N.J. Lives and works in Mine Hill, N.J.


Born in 1984, Lexington, Ky. Lives and works in New York, N.Y.


TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK | Torpedoboy Versus the Worldly Forces
Born in 1974, Oklahoma City, Okla. Lives and works in Houston, Texas


BRONWYN KATZ | Untitled (roots)
Born in 1993, Kimberley, South Africa. Lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa


KILUANJI KIA HENDA | An Ode to Segregation
Born in 1979, Luanda, Angola. Lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal and Luanda, Angola


Born in 1978, Hamilton, Canada. Lives and works in Paris, France


DANIEL LIND-RAMOS | Homage to the Construction Worker
Born in 1953, Loíza, Puerto Rico, USA. Lives and works in Humacao, Puerto Rico


FAHEEM MAJEED | Freedom’s Stand
Born in 1976, Chicago, Ill. Lives and works in Chicago


Born in 1982, Mbabane, Swaziland. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa


KARYN OLIVIER | Talking Obelisk
Born in 1968, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Lives and works in Philadelphia, Penn.


ROBERT PRUITT | Living Wonder
Born in 1975, Houston, Texas. Lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Born in 1987, Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica. Lives and works in Miami, Fla.


MARY SIBANDE | Old Wars are Out and a New Reason of Humanity is In
Born in 1982, Barberton, South Africa. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa


Born in 1964, New York, N.Y. Lives and works in Los Angeles


VIEW MORE All of the High Line Plinth proposals are featured here


After a temporary closure due to COVID-19, some of the High Line reopened July 16. Timed-entry reservations are currently required. View the public park’s visitor guidelines


Several volumes have been published a document the practices of some of the artists who submitted proposals for the next High Line Plinth commissions. The books include “Nick Cave: Epitome” and “Nick Cave: Until”; “Gary Simmons: Paradise” and “Gary Simmons”; “Trenton Doyle Hancock: Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass” and “Trenton Doyle Hancock: Me a Mound”; and “Anxious Objects: Willie Cole’s Favorite Brands,” Mary Sibande’s “Long Live the Dead Queen,” and the forthcoming volume “Kapwani Kiwanga.”

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