Wanderlust is a group exhibition that explores the themes of walking, journeys, and pilgrimages. Inspired by the High Line as an ambulatory space experienced most naturally in motion, Wanderlust extends the tradition of Conceptual art wherein the act of walking served as an inspiration for many artists who explored life both in the urban context and in an ambivalent confrontation with nature.
On the High Line, itself an urban promenade that combines nature and architecture, the act of walking is both celebrated and taken for granted. Wanderlust invites viewers to remember the many implications of the journeys and walks they take every day, placing them within a secular tradition that expands beyond art into both everyday life and our shared cultural histories.
Giorgio Andreotta Calò (b. 1979, Italy) is an artist known for his naturalistic sculptures that reference the aquatic environment of his native Venice. For Wanderlust, Andreotta Calò presents two works: the first, rhábdos, is a walking stick cast in bronze. A copy of rhábdos cast in aluminum will be available for visitors to carry with them on short walks along the High Line. His second work, Wanderlust, is a series of thin brass rods inserted between the planks of the High Line path, which are engraved with the names of people who walked the length of the United States. The work is inspired by the Peace Pilgrim (1908 – 1981), a political activist who crossed the country on foot as many as twenty times.*
Valentin Carron (b. 1977, Switzerland) manipulates the vernacular decorative languages of his native Valais, Switzerland to form sculptural objects that are strangely familiar. For the High Line, Carron presents Wall Bell, a tocsin—or alarm bell—inspired by hand bells common in Switzerland and installed against a wall on the High Line, with a rope for visitors to ring it. Referencing an ancient, analog mode of communication, the bell suggests congregation, an apt symbol for the High Line, a site of assembly for millions of neighborhood residents, other New Yorkers, and visitors.
Iman Issa’s (b. 1979, Egypt) artistic practice revolves around the relationship between memory, history, language, and cognition. For Wanderlust, Issa presents the sculpture Heritage Studies #10, a five-foot-long copper cylinder, part of her ongoing work “Heritage Studies” begun in 2015, which includes formal reinterpretations of cultural artifacts drawn from various historical and museological sources.
Matt Johnson (b. 1978, United States) makes sculptures inspired by everyday objects, which become humorously absurd when the artist relieves them of their original functions. For Wanderlust, Johnson creates Untitled (Swan), a new sculpture derived from the artist’s doodles in a sketch book, then bent from an original rail track from the High Line. The sculpture’s sinuous shapes and curves twist around to create a three-dimensional drawing in space. The use of the original rail track pays homage to the High Line’s history as a means of transportation along Manhattan’s West Side.
Marie Lorenz (b. 1973, United States) is a New York-based artist whose practice involves using the tide to navigate the waterways of New York City in wooden boats she builds by hand. For her ongoing project, titled Tide and Current Taxi, the artist takes a variety of participants on boat trips exploring the shorelines of the city. For the High Line, Lorenz installs three rowboats on the underside of the park at Gansevoort Plaza, which the artist periodically lowers, in order to take visitors on boat rides on the Hudson River. *
From July 1 to August 11, Marie Lorenz will travel by one of her handmade boats from Buffalo to New York City via the Erie Canal and the Hudson River. During her trip, the Everson Museum’s Wampler Gallery will feature live stream footage of the voyage, and Lorenz’s exploration will culminate with an innovative, multi-media exhibition and series of programs at the Everson this fall. You can take a look here.
Tony Matelli (b. 1971, United States) is a sculptor based in New York and known for his lifelike sculptures. For Wanderlust, Matelli presents Sleepwalker, a hyper-realistic painted bronze sculpture of a somnambulant man lost and adrift in the world, meandering about in a deep sleep. An amusing take on the theme of walking, Matelli’s work challenges preconceived ideas about traditional monumental portraiture, and questions the extent to which any one of us is ever fully aware of our own surroundings, especially considering the constant distraction of the screens that supplement our lived experience.
Paulo Nazareth (b. 1977, Brazil) is an artist who explores ethnicity and identity through the canvas of his own person. For the High Line, Nazareth presents a grouping of cast cement watermelons – a conceptual artwork whose realization references both the corrupt labor policies involved in the construction of the iconic historical capital of Brasília, and the journey that watermelons – originally native to West Africa – made to the Americas alongside colonization and the slave trade.
Mike Nelson (b. 1967, United Kingdom) creates landscapes of sculptures from discarded materials, arranged together to suggest a narrative of objects one might find along the side of a highway or in an abandoned campground. The artist’s sculptural work for the High Line is made from rubble from the numerous development sites through which the High Line passes. The work straddles an uneasy confusion of land art and empathetic figurative sculpture.
Roman Ondak (b. 1966, Slovakia) presents Teaching to Walk, a performance first presented in Prague in 2002, wherein the artist invited a friend and her son to perform the paired act of learning and teaching how to walk in a gallery context. For the High Line, Ondak invites individual mothers and caregivers with eight-to-twelve-month-old sons to teach them to walk in the park. The piece is informed by artist’s memory of his wife teaching their son to walk. *
Susan Philipsz (b. 1965, United Kingdom) explores sound both in its psychological dimension and in its sculptural potential. Her installations, presented in museums and public spaces, are often inspired by the idea of epic travels. Philipsz installs Lachrimae, a seven-part sound piece based on the image of a single falling tear, on the High Line at the Rail Yards. Here, the immersive installation accompanies visitors as they walk along the Hudson River.
Rayyane Tabet’s (b. 1983, Lebanon) work explores paradoxes in the built environment and its history. For Wanderlust, Tabet installs a new iteration of Steel Rings, a sculpture that replicates forty kilometers of the defunct Trans-Arabian Pipeline, a 753-mile-long American venture that transported oil by land from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon through Jordan, Syria, and the Golan Heights between 1950 and 1983. Due to sociopolitical transformations of the region, the company was dissolved and the pipeline abandoned. Today, it is the only physical object that crosses the borders of five countries in a region whose population is highly conscious of its demarcated boundaries.
Photos by Timothy Schenck