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Various Artists
A Tale of Two Islands

March 13 – May 7, 2014
4:00 PM until the park closes
High Line Channel 14, 14th Street Passage, on the High Line at West 14th Street

A Tale of Two Islands features two videos, each of which offer a portrait of an island located in New York City. As we welcome New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio, we celebrate the synergy between our Mayor’s platform and how this program suggests the metropolis as a place comprising a multitude of different cities, locations, and stories – some fictional and some factual. Zeroing in on two islands in the East River – the quietly residential Roosevelt Island squeezed between Queens and Manhattan and the unpopulated North Brother Island, former home to Riverside Hospital and the infamous Typhoid Mary – the two videos in this program hover between historical biographies of places enmeshed within the fabric of a vast megalopolis and cloistered narrative fictions woven as islands of their own.

London-based artist Beatrice Gibson creates complex video works structured like musical compositions that are often choreographed with multiple interdisciplinary collaborators. Working with New York-based musician Alex Waterman, and referencing experimental composer Robert Ashley’s video operas, A Necessary Music weaves a portrait of Roosevelt Island that begins as a straightforward anthropological recitation and slowly devolves into science fiction. For A Necessary Music, Gibson and Waterman interviewed residents of Roosevelt Island and then asked different residents to relate back these texts, asking the residents of the island to both re-write and re-inhabit their own home. With Adolfo Bioy Casares’ 1941 science fiction novel The Invention of Morel in mind, Gibson and Waterman explore the strange temporality of science fiction – one of looking into the future retelling its own past – emphasizing the uncanny relationship between science fiction and reality. Narrated by Robert Ashley (1930 – 2014).

New York-based artist Frank Heath’s artistic practice is catalyzed by unexpected interventions into otherwise banal scenarios. Situated somewhere between prank calls and calls for help, Heath begins many of his video works with phone calls to dealers of various goods – flags, flying banners –to discuss what begin as innocuous requests. In Asymptomatic Carrier, Heath begins with a phone call to a flag fabricator, slowly revealing the fact that he is looking for a flag to wave above what has become his home on the otherwise abandoned North Brother Island. Discussing the island’s former use as a home to Riverside Hospital and the ways it could be possible for him to have inhabited this isolated place unaccompanied for the past forty years, the listener becomes an eavesdropper, drawn into a conversation nestled somewhere between imagination and reality.

Various Artists

Beatrice Gibson (b. 1978, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include CAC Brétigny, France (2013); Index, Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm (2012); The Showroom, London (2012–2013), Kunstverein Amsterdam, Netherlands (2011); Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart, (2010); and The Serpentine Gallery, Sackler Center (2010). Notable recent group exhibitions include Assembly, A Recent Survey of Artist’s Film and Video in Britain, 2008-2013, Tate Britain (2014); and Soundworks, ICA, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2012). Gibson was nominated for the Max Mara Award for Women Artists (2013-2015) and The Jarman Award (2013). She is twice winner of the Rotterdam International Film Festival for Best Short Film, for A Necessary Music (2009) and more recently The Tiger’s Mind (2013).

Alex Waterman (b.1975) is a founding member of the Plus Minus Ensemble, based in Brussels and London, specializing in avant-garde and experimental music. In New York he performs with the Either/Or Ensemble. In 2007 Waterman curated two exhibitions in New York, one on experimental music and poetics: Agapê (2007) at Miguel Abreu Gallery, and the other on graphic notation, Between Thought and Sound: Graphic Notation in Contemporary Music (2007) at The Kitchen. Waterman is presently recreating the Spanish-language version of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives, Vidas Perfectas, for both stage and television. It will premiere in New York at the Whitney Biennale in 2014. Alongside designer and writer Will Holder, he is also working on a scored biography of Ashley, ‘Yes, But is it Edible’ to be published by New Documents in 2014.

Frank Heath (b. 1982, Missouri) lives and works in New York. Recent solo and two-person shows include Frieze Frame, New York (2013); Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2012); Roots and Culture (with Brendan Meara), Chicago (2011); and Videotage Gallery (with JJ PEET), Hong Kong (2007). Notable recent group exhibitions include Kool-Aid Wino, Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT (2013); The Way Things Go (Part 3), Frutta, Rome, Italy (2012); In Search Of…, Clough-Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College, Memphis and Kansas University Art and Design Gallery, Lawrence (2012); Matter Out of Place, The Kitchen, New York (2012); Someone Has Stolen Our Tent, Simon Preston Gallery, New York (2012); and Forcemeat, Wallspace, New York, NY (2011).


High Line Art is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. High Line Art is made possible by Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional support from David Zwirner Gallery, and Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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