Last week I invited a friend to go with me to see Carol Bove’s art installation at the undeveloped section of Highline Park. The Highline is a relative new park that got created when a couple of NYers decided to save the old elevated railroad tracks on the west side of Manhattan. Currently the Highline goes from Gansevoort St in Meatpacking to 30th St. The last section from 30th St. to 34th St. will open to the public sometime year.
Ever since it opened in 2009, the Highline is quite popular. I love how they tried to keep as much of the old freight rail elements as possible, such as leaving tracks in to remind us of its historic past.
This past year Carol Bove (pronounced Bo-vay), a Brooklyn-based artist from Switzerland, created an art installation called Catepillar in the undeveloped part of the Highline. The public was invited to see it as a part of a tour. Tickets were ridiculously difficult to get at first because of the incredible amount of interest. I missed out for the first two rounds when they were releasing the tickets and the tour dates.
Finally I scored free tickets. I invited Ciara because she’s an art nerd like me. We were warned to wear sensible shoes (no sandals and high heels) because of the uneven ground and overgrown plants. I definitely concur with that instruction. The ground was difficult to walk on and I hopped from one broken railroad track to another because it was easier than walking on the ground strewn with rocks and broken material and wild plants. I almost tripped on a vine at one point. Still I didn’t care because I was thrilled to get this chance to see the Highline in this relatively intact state before it gets groomed and transformed, and incorporated into a park.
A docent briefly described the history of the Highline and then led us. There are several different pieces of art that Bove installed. Her works mimic or evoke the elements of the environment in which her work is installed, so there were a few pieces that looked as if they were made from the materials found there even though they weren’t. She believes that art should be interpreted by the viewer, so she doesn’t say much about her work, in order to allow you to have your own thoughts.
It was a beautiful afternoon. I eagerly absorbed the wild state of the Highline. I wanted to remember it as I saw it then before next year when I visit it again and I see it tamed – concrete poured over, weeds removed, and approved vegetation carefully planted. The docent also told us that this would be one of the last times that we would have a view of trains from the Highline. Apparently the city is going to construct something that will block the view. The guide wasn’t really quite sure what was going to happen.
Ciara and I snapped our pictures, but mostly we lingered, looked, and talked about what we saw.
The Highline has other works on of art in the park. I’m so glad that they commissioned Bove to install her art in this undeveloped section because it gave the public a chance to see Highline before its developed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that it will be because this means that this piece of land will be preserved for the public. But I’m happy that I got to see it like this before it vanishes.
If you’re a lover of (contemporary) art, I recommend that you take a tour to see Catepillar. The tour is about a 45 mins long and absolutely free. Reservations must be made in advance by getting a ticket here.