The Turner Prize winning artist Rachel Whiteread has opted for a chilly but exhilarating site on New York’s Governors Island for her latest piece of public art. Consulting curator Tom Eccles and his team at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, landscape architects from West 8, and representatives from Rachel’s studio in London and her gallery Luhring Augustine, in New York will all be present at the unveiling, which has been moved from 2017 to this summer.
Public art installations by Rachel Whiteread enable the artist to better visualise how her piece will respond to its one-of-a-kind location in the middle of the New York Harbor with spectacular views and a unique maritime climate. Though the lush plantings, paths, and some of the adjacent public spaces the artist’s creative process aligns in order to dovetail with the complex engineering and construction schedule that the Hills require. Rachel Whiteread is the second artist that will be featured on Governors Island as part of the newly established Governors Island Public Art Commissioning Program. The first artist commissioned by the program, Mark Handforth, currently has four sculptures on Governors Island that will be on view to the public this summer.
Cabin, the latest public sculpture by Rachel Whiteread is a concrete reverse cast of a wooden shed will be unveiled to the public next month when the park opens. Whiteread’s site specific installation, situated on Discovery Hill, one of four hills in the park that are described as offering “lush rolling landscapes, grassy overlooks, exhilarating slides and unforgettable views.”
Cabin will be surrounded by bronze casts of actual rubbish found on the Island. The work continues Whiteread’s theme of reverse casting large structures and objects, previously seen in what is perhaps her most famous work to date, House (1993), a reverse concrete cast of an entire condemned Victorian house in East London that was demolished after 11 weeks. The work scored Whiteread the Turner Prize that year.
This has been a very busy year for British public sculpture in New York. Artistic duo Elmgreen & Draget draw parallels to the concept of a swimming pool in Rockefeller Plaza as Van Gogh, who famously cut off his own ear. Martin Creed’s neon-red installation,Understanding features ten-foot-tall letters are secured onto a rotating 50-foot steel beam that spins 360 degrees at various speeds and Cornelia Parker’s red barn on the roof of The Metropolitan Museum draws inspiration from the Bates motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, as well as the paintings of Edward Hopper, to create a piece that looks to awaken our associations with spaces.
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