How is Winter Weather Treating the High Line Art? Cecilia Alemani Explains

With a recent report that winter weather has kept the High Line closed for 10 out of the past 52 days, we wondered how the art was faring in the inclement conditions. Will pieces currently installed by Carol Bove, Victor Alimpiev,  Nicole Miller, and George Condo (above) be able to survive the freezing temperatures and onslaught of slush? We called up High Line curator Cecilia Alemani to find out.

How is the art doing with all of the winter weather?

It’s doing very well actually. All of our sculptures and installations are conceived so that they can go through any kind of weather. We also keep them on view for 12 months so when we work with the artists in the production we make sure that the sculptures can last and really can go through a storm in the winter and a very hot summer. So they’re doing very well. Now they are completely covered with snow, other times they might be covered with leaves and branches. I think it’s something that makes the program very special and usually excites the artists a lot because they have to, of course, think of their piece in the four different seasons. Seasons on the High Line are even more extreme than in the rest of the city because the weather up there is a lot more extreme. I think it’s also what makes the program very different from other public art programs where you have a piece on view just for a limited amount of time. So far — knocking on wood — they are doing well.

So clearly weather concerns influence your curatorial choices. Do you find an artist that you are interested in and then you worry about the art holding up in the weather during the fabrication process?

Very often we invite artists who have never done outdoor sculptures before and it’s a challenge. At least for me that’s what makes my job interesting, is to give a very unusual and unique platform to someone who has never dealt with those issues. And it’s not just weather on the High Line, it’s also people touching. There are 5 million people in one year and pretty much all of them are going to touch the sculptures. So there are of course construction concerns but I think, artists, they see this as a challenge, but they turn it into something very stimulating and something that they probably have never dealt with in the past. So that’s also something that attracts a lot of artists.

There are quite a few video pieces up now. Were those chosen with the weather in mind?

Usually with the videos, we think more in terms of seasons. The one that is called High Line Channel 14 plays in one of those passages where the trains used to go through. Those passages are very active in the summer, there are people sitting there, lots of vendors. While in the winter they are empty and kind of desolated, so we want to use the video program to activate them. In the winter, we do a lot of pieces and showcase a lot of videos that have music and dialogue that you can listen to and that kind of activates that whole space. In the summer, we tend to screen videos that are either shorter or more appropriate for the summertime.

— Ashton Cooper (ashton_cooper)

Nicole Miller

Carol Bove

Sean Landers

(Photos: Timothy Schenck, Courtesy of Friends of the High Line)