‘Musical brain,’ giant marble ‘retainers’ among new High Line Park artworks

Rendering of a work in the Musical Brain series Raul NIeves HIgh Line
Rendering of a work in The Musical Brain series. (Raul de Nieves/High Line)

The High Line in Manhattan announced new artworks commissioned for the park in the 2020-21 season, including a musical group installation and sculptures.

The works will open in April 2020 along the park on Manhattan’s West Side, and run through March 2021.

The group show “The Musical Brain” — named for a short story by Argentine writer Cesar Aria — will feature works by eight artists, and is based on how music can bring people together and help to understand the world, according to High Line Art. 

The works will explore different ways music can be made with various objects in the world, and different meanings music can have, including in historical, political, playful or performative ways. A railway spike will become a bell in one piece, discarded objects will be explored for musical potential, and young people will sing warnings about saving the planet.

Another commissioned work is a sculpture by New York artist Hannah Levy called “Retainer,” which is an oversized orthodontic retainer — nearly as big as park benches — from carved marble and stainless steel to be installed at West 23rd Street.

The work is part of a series of retainers by Levy, and is meant to complement the surrounding High Line and also comment on markers of social status, according to High Line Art, in having straight teeth, including the high price of orthodontics.

“This year’s commissions demonstrate how today’s talented artists reflect on the world around them, in turns playful, thoughtful, and hopeful,” said Cecilia Alemani, Director and Chief Curator of High Line art, in a statement. “From engaging with music’s transformative and connecting powers, to imagining the potential for reconsideration and regeneration in design and the built environment, to more deeply considering the people and spaces around us, these artists will activate the public space of the High Line in exciting ways.”

Another upcoming work will be “57 Forms of Liberty,” by Ibrahim Mahama, which is a sculpture of an inverted industrial tank with a tree growing out of the top.

The sprouting tree invokes the torch of the Statue of Liberty, according to High Line Art, and Mahama explores interactions with industrial, modern materials and how we live in the world, which is echoed in the High Line’s own industrial past and transformation into a park.

That artwork will be installed at the park’s Northern Spur Preserve, near West 16th Street.