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Virginia Overton in Pier 54, High Line Channel 14

Various Artists
Pier 54

November 6 – December 13, 2014
Exhibition at 120 Eleventh Avenue at West 20th Street
Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
* Public Opening, November 6, 2014, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

November 6, 2014 – January 14, 2015
Daily, Beginning at 4:00 PM
14th Street Passage, on the High Line at West 14th Street

Featuring 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, and Anicka Yi

High Line Art presents Pier 54, an exhibition conceived as a tribute to and a reaction against Pier 18, a legendary project organized by artist and curator Willoughby Sharp in 1971. For its original iteration, Sharp invited 27 artists to create an event or an action to take place on the abandoned Pier 18 in the Financial District of New York City. Artists responded in a variety of ways: some carried out performances, others created sculptures and installations or sent simple instructions for do-it-yourself works to be executed by someone else. All the events were photographed by artists Harry Shunk and János Kender, and subsequently exhibited in photographic form at the Museum of Modern Art in the summer of 1971. Among the participants – who, in keeping with a largely gender-biased art world at the time, happened to be all male – were Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mario Merz, Allen Ruppersberg, Richard Serra, William Wegman, and many others.

Both a re-enactment and an exercise in historical revisionism, Pier 54 took place during the summer of 2014 on Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 – a disused pier located at 11th Avenue and West 13th Street. The pier is visible from the High Line and preserves many historical memories and architectural vestiges of Manhattan’s West Side, a neighborhood that has been swiftly transformed in the past decades. High Line Art invited 27 contemporary artists – this time all women – to realize projects that respond to the location and engage with the changing landscape of the waterfront.

The original Pier 18 actions were never meant to be public performances: the various events and interventions were only staged for the camera and were documented by artist duo Shunk-Kender as a series of black-and-white photographs. The actions were recorded in a sequence of photographs to suggest the durational quality of these projects. Similarly, the events on Pier 54 were not open to the public, aside from unsuspecting passersby. At times invisible, other times raucous and subtly aggressive, the works and actions forming Pier 54 were captured by photographer Liz Ligon as a series of black-and-white photographic documentations, turning the actions themselves into a mysterious presence hidden in the fabric of the city.