NEW YORK, NY.- The Trust for Governors Island
today unveiled a new permanent site-specific artwork by British artist and Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread. Entitled Cabin, the installation will be on view this season daily from July 19 - September 25, 2016, Monday-Friday 10am- 6pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-7pm.
Cabin is located on Discovery Hill, one of the four Hills on Governors Island. Designed by acclaimed Dutch landscape architects West 8, the Hills are the culmination of the award-winning Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan. Rising 25 to 70 feet above the Island, the Hills offer an extraordinary experience of art, play, and views.
Cabin is the latest work featured in Art CommissionsGI, The Trust's public art program. Art CommissionsGI has been led by curator Tom Eccles, the Executive Director of CCS Bard and the Hessel Museum. Cabin is the first major permanent public commission in the US for Whiteread, and her first public art installation in New York since Water Tower in 1998. Other permanent site specific worksby Susan Philipsz and Mark Handforth were commissioned by Art ComissionsGI in prior years.
Nestled on top of Discovery Hill, one of four hills now rising just south of the new park spaces, the concrete cast of a New England style shed is reminiscent of Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond. Partially hidden from view, Whiteread's piece is a subtle yet deeply insightful addition to visitors' journey throughout Discovery Hill, making it one of the most unique art destination in the city.
"The Hills provides the perfect setting to understand Rachel's work. Cabin is as uncanny and mesmerizing as the Island itself. It is rare to see a work that fits so well in its surroundings and is also perfectly representative of an artist's oeuvre" explained curator Tom Eccles. "Cabin brings to its viewers a real sense of contemplation and elation, and once on top of this hill, you can't help but think: it feels like it has always been there."
"Governors Island provides a place unlike any other in New York City to create and exhibit public art," said Ronay Menschel, Chair of The Trust for Governors Island. "The harbor views, the vast open spaces and alternatively, sequestered places offer artists and visitors a unique opportunity to interact with art and to be inspired."
"This is fundamentally a collaboration of art and landscape, with a piece perfectly sited in one of the most dramatic locations imaginable" said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. "This commission will provide New Yorkers with one-of-kind experiences in which history, nature, and contemporary art converge, all in one of the City's rarest outdoor landscapes."
Rachel Whiteread's Cabin on Discovery Hill continues the artist's interest in producing evocative sculptures of negative spaces and structures. In this case, atop the edge of Discovery Hill, the artist has sited a concrete cast of the interior of a simple cabin, a place that suggests retreat and introspection. Sitting modestly on the hillside overlooking New York Harbor, the sculpture creates a sense of contemplative quiet and distance from the bustle of the city across the water. Strewn around the cabin are numerous bronze casts of discarded objects including bottles, cans and other refuse; some of the objects were sourced on the Island itself.
Cabin is a fiction, an imaginary space on which viewers project their own thoughts and emotions. The uncanny qualities of Whiteread's sculpture, set opposite the Statue of Liberty and looking out over the bay, suggest what such a space might represent and who may have been its occupant. This structure is undoubtedly an escape from the world, yet stands in resistance before it. One could imagine its occupant to be some modern-day Thoreau sitting in a cabin to write his or her own Walden, Life in the Woods, or Civil Disobedience.
Over time, the surrounding vegetation of the Hill will grow along the sculpture's surfaces, causing it blend into the hillside, contributing to its appearance as a weathered, secret hideaway.
Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963) is best known for several large-scale public commissions including House (1993), a sculpture cast from the interior of a condemned Victorian house in London's East End; Water Tower (1998), a resin cast of a water tower such as are ubiquitous to the New York City skyline (installed on the roof of the Museum of Modern Art); Monument (2001), an inverted pedestal placed upon an empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square; and the Holocaust Memorial (1995-2000) in Vienna, an impenetrable library of books turned inwards. Her works are in many collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; the Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.