Archeo, a High Line Commission

High Line Art
Jun 3, 2014 10:17PM

An outdoor group exhibition about technology and obsolescence, Archeo brings together the work of artists who employ outmoded technologies and outdated machinery as a reflection on humanity’s continuous fascination and frustration with technology.

Today, many young artists engage with technology by exposing both its fragilities and merits. Their artworks embody an attitude that is simultaneously critical and nostalgic, in which the optimistic idealism of technological progress is countered by a disenchanted skepticism. Some of the works in the exhibition describe a recent past which resembles a dystopian future, featuring a wasteland of discarded machines and castaway objects. Other artists are more enthusiastic about the potential of technology but warn us against its dangerous side effects and its planned obsolescence. Some of the artworks on view disclose a return to the handmade and an attraction to organic forms and materials. These sculptures resemble relics and findings of an archaeology of the future.

Archeo features international artists including:

Antoine Catala (b. 1975, France) is known for sculptures that integrate cutting-edge technology, including holograms and pneumatic images in response to technology’s control of our interpretation of images. Spanning from highly sophisticated systems to a simple, DIY vocabulary, Catala’s language is embedded with jarring, humorous surrealism. For Archeo, the artist presents Logo to Me and the Others Breathing, a kinetic sculpture that intermittently expands and contracts to mimic the breathing rhythm of a part organic, part artificial creature.

Isabelle Cornaro’s (b. 1974, France) initial training as an art historian specializing in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Western art influences her unique visual language. For the High Line, Cornaro presents God Box (column), a suite of three columns extending from her series God Box (2013). These monoliths contain assemblages of countless objects that are unified through their casting. Though they incorporate modern objects, Cornaro’s cast monolithic blocks resemble sixteenth-century wunderkammer or artifacts from ancient cultures preserved in a time capsule.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins (b. 1971, United States) is known for ceramic sculptures that are often displayed in precarious environments and are charged with personal memories and collective associations. For the High Line, Jackson Hutchins presents two new sculptures: Him and Me, a ceramic piece balanced gently in a hand-woven hammock stretched among trees and Fountain, a ceramic piece installed on an old cushion.

Yngve Holen (b. 1982, Germany) investigates our increasing intrigue with technology in his sculptural accumulations of everyday objects. The forms he uses borrow materials and designs from the engineering, aviation, automotive and consumer appliance industries. His often human-like titles further instill his sculptures with a corporeal sensibility. In this sense, Holen’s work interposes between man and the manmade. For Archeo, Holen presents Sensitive 4 Detergent, two sculptures made of a washing machine drum and a suds container set amidst the lush vegetation of the High Line.

Gavin Kenyon (b. 1980, United States) produces abstract sculptures that assume a biomorphic quality. Drawing his inspiration from the woodlands of upstate New York, Kenyon creates his bulbous sculptural forms through the chance-laden process of filling fur-lined bags with plaster and then constraining them with rope. For Archeo, Kenyon presents Realism Marching Triumphantly Into the City, a sculpture resembling a crumbled equestrian monument from a distant past.

Josh Kline (b. 1979, United States) creates sculptural installations that employ the language and strategies of advertising. For Archeo, Kline presents Skittles, an industrial refrigerator containing smoothies produced by the artist using unconventional and poetic combinations of ingredients including kale chips, squid ink, sneakers, phone bills, and pepper spray. Each smoothie stands as a portrait of a different contemporary lifestyle. When grouped together, they evoke a landscape of aspiration, taste, and – at times – deprivation in a metropolis like New York City.

Marianne Vitale (b. 1973, United States) creates installations inspired by vernacular architecture and American folklore. On the High Line, Vitale presents Common Crossings, a series of dramatic sculptures realized with decommissioned steel railroad track components that were once used to switch the directions of trains by allowing tracks to cross each other. Positioned vertically on the High Line– itself a re-purposed railway– the single-cast junctions, known in the industry as ‘frogs’, evoke the history of the park as well as that of westward expansion and industrialization in America.


Photos by Timothy Schenck.

High Line Art