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Spencer Finch
The River That Flows Both Ways

Through June 2016
On the High Line at the Chelsea Market Passage

Inspired by the Hudson River, Spencer Finch’s The River That Flows Both Ways documents a 700-minute (11 hours, 40 minutes) journey on the river in a single day. The title is a translation of Muhheakantuck, the Native American name for the Hudson, referring to the river’s natural flow in two directions. Like the rail line that existed on the High Line, the Hudson River was, and still is, an active route for the transportation of goods into Manhattan. The river and the High Line have always been linked in their geography, their function, and their imprints on the industrial legacy of the city.

From a tugboat drifting on Manhattan’s west side and past the High Line, Finch photographed the river’s surface once every minute. The color of each pane of glass was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically in the tunnel’s existing steel mullions. Time is translated into a grid, reading from left to right and top to bottom, capturing the varied reflective and translucent conditions of the water’s surface. The work, like the river, is experienced differently depending on the light levels and atmospheric conditions of the site. In this narrative orientation, the glass reveals Finch’s impossible quest for the color of water.

Photos courtesy of Friends of the High Line.

Spencer Finch

Spencer Finch (b. 1972, Connecticut) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Finch’s mixed-media installations, photographs, and drawings investigate the phenomena of color and light in the natural environment, transforming the traditional genre of landscape into abstract grids of color. Recent solo exhibitions include James Cohan Gallery, New York (2013); Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis (2013); Lisson Gallery, Milan (2012); Nordenhake Gallery, Stockholm (2012); the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2011); and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2010). Important commissions and public projects include the Culture Line at Paddington Station, London (2013); the glass façade for the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore (2012); the “Civil House Court Project,” Haarlem, Netherlands; and the Park Avenue Armory, New York (2008), among others.

Program Partner

Over the past four decades, Creative Time has commissioned and presented ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. Our work is guided by three core values: art matters, artists’ voices are important in shaping society, and public spaces are places for creative and free expression. We are acclaimed for the innovative and meaningful projects we have commissioned, from Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated lower Manhattan six months after 9/11, to bus ads promoting HIV awareness, to Paul Chan’s production of Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, and much more. In partnership with a variety of well-known cultural institutions and community groups, we have commissioned art in unique landmark sites from the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Governors Island, and the High Line, to neglected urban treasures like the Lower East Side’s historic Essex Street Market, Coney Island, and New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward. We are committed to presenting important art for our times and engaging broad audiences that transcend geographic, racial, and socioeconomic barriers.


This installation is presented in partnership with Creative Time, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and is made possible by a generous grant from The Rockefeller Foundation's New York City Cultural Innovation Fund. This project was made possible, in part, through the generous support of Chelsea Market and in-kind support from Jaroff Design and Mison Concepts, Inc.

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