NEW YORK, NY.-
Artist Meriem Bennanis first public sculpture, Windy (2022), opened this week on the High Line, kicking off the summer season of High Line Arts program. Co-commissioned by High Line Art
and Audemars Piguet Contemporary, Windy is installed on the High Line at 24th Street and will remain on view through May 2023. Bennanis project marks the first time High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary are co-curating and commissioning a public sculpture. The curators from High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary worked closely together with Bennani and the High Line Arts expert team of fabricators to bring this ambitious artwork to life.
Windy presents a new direction for Bennanis practice. The artwork translates her command of film and animation into a kinetic 3-D sculpture that alludes to movement represented in her video work.
Breaking norms of traditional static sculpture, Windy is a motorized spinning tornado that will rotate at varying speeds for a full year. Standing at just over nine feet tall, the sculpture is made from approximately 200 stacked foam disks. Electrical bike motors comprise the spine of the sculpture and connect to each section of foam layers. Each engine is uniquely programmed by the artist so all sections spin at varying speeds and sequences, creating unique loops that never repeat. In this way, Windy reflects Bennanis video practice: the time sequences of a multi-channel video installation where each screen is on its own, unsynchronized loop.
Windy is built to withstand all four seasons in New York. The disks are made of lightweight UV-proof and waterproof foam that will enable the sculpture to spin in rain or shine. The foam was also meticulously managed and cut to avoid excess waste during the fabrication process.
Born in Morocco and based in New York City, Bennani is best known for her video work that tell stories about human behavior and our experiences both on and offline. Her works blend references from reality TV, cartoons, documentary film, and social media, often with a humorous and absurdist touch. 2 Lizards (2020), the artists recent video series created at the start of COVID-19 in collaboration with filmmaker Orian Barki, became an overnight viral sensation as the work poignantly captured the experience of quarantine and isolation at the height of the pandemic.
Windy is more abstract than Bennanis previous works. The commission enabled Bennani to explore a new direction in her practice while drawing on several areas of inspiration. The frenetic movement of the sculpture captures the experience of walking through New York Citys crowded streets and the frequency of movement on the High Line, one of the citys most visited public parks. As the metropolis continues to return to life following the pandemic lockdowns, Windy is a poignant visual of New York Citys frenzied and intoxicating energy.
The collaboration between High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary highlights the parallel mission of both programs: to invite an artist to commission a new artwork which allows them to experiment and further develop their practice. Both High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary support artists in a meaningful, sustained, and collaborative way, offering the opportunity to create a new artwork that might otherwise not be realized. All works commissioned by High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary respectively belong to the artist.
Meriem Bennani, artist, says: Developing Windy has expanded my understanding of sculpture and allowed me to take on new conceptual and technical challenges in my work. The project is at once inspired by moving images and in many ways reminds me of the process of animation, while at the same time presents something quite different and even opposite to my video practice. Windy is much more abstract than my other works and open to many different interpretations. I hope that visitors will have a visceral, emotional reaction when they experience the piece and be swept away by its chaotic energy, echoing the energy of New York City and the High Line. I am thankful to High Line Art and Audemars Piguet Contemporary for their support in fabricating the work and providing me the opportunity to create my first public sculpture.
Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator, High Line Art, says: Our team has so enjoyed supporting Meriem in creating Windy and we are thrilled to unveil it to the public today. Its an exciting moment to see Meriem expand her practice to new forms and master quite an engineering feat with this kinetic work. Our collaboration with Audemars Piguet Contemporary broadens the unique platform that the High Line provides artists to present new creative projects for a wide, public audience."
Audrey Teichmann, curator at Audemars Piguet Contemporary, says: It has been a pleasure to accompany Meriem on this journey of exploring her relationship to sculpture and pushing the boundaries of what a sculpture can be. We are so pleased to collaborate with Cecilia and High Line Art, a program that is completely in line with Audemars Piguet Contemporarys commitment to supporting artists and nurturing their creative development. We are excited that Windy is now on view for visitors to the High Line to enjoy for a full year.
Meriem Bennani (b. 1988, Rabat, Morocco) is an artist based in New York. In 2022, in addition to Windy, she will present solo exhibitions at the Renaissance Society, Chicago, Illinois (2022); and Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, England (2022). She has previously presented solo exhibitions at the Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, Germany (2020); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France (2019); The Kitchen, New York, New York (2017); and MoMA PS1, New York, New York (2016). Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at institutions including LAX, Los Angeles, California (2020); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark (2020); and MAXXI National Museum of XXI Arts, Rome, Italy (2018). She has participated in major international exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York (2019), Biennale de lImage en Mouvement, Turin, Italy (2019); Centre dArt Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2018); Biennale de Rennes, France (2018); and 11th Shanghai Biennale, China (2016).