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'Ghost' Shed Waterfront Art Installation to Rise Across from Whitney Museum

By Maya Rajamani | October 5, 2017 11:47am

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — In 1975, artist Gordon Matta-Clark carved five openings into an abandoned shed on Pier 52 — creating a work of art along the waterfront that he described as a “sun-and-water temple” dubbed “Day’s End.”

Within the next few years, a “ghost representation” of the artist's creation will rise in the exact location where the shed once stood, on the Gansevoort Peninsula directly across from the Whitney Museum, officials announced Wednesday. 

Renowned American artist David Hammons, who is “sought after by every museum in the country” but notoriously selective, approached the museum about creating the public art installation after paying a visit a few years ago, explained Adam Weinberg, the museum's Alice Pratt Brown director.

Hammons’ piece, which the artist plans to call “Day’s End” in tribute to Matta-Clark’s work, will be an approximately 50-foot-tall, 373-foot-long stainless steel structure that forms an outline of the original shed, Weinberg told Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront committee meeting Wednesday night.

A rendering of the installation as seen from the Whitney Museum's roof deck. (Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates)

After Matta-Clark carved into the shed, it “was like a cathedral of sorts,” where people could gather and see the light changing along the river throughout the day, he said.

“The idea is that it is a ghost representation of the pier shed that was originally there,” Weinberg said of a rendering unveiled at Wednesday's meeting. “It looks almost like it’s hovering on the waterfront, but it’s actually not, because it’s anchored down to the ground.”

Hammons’ work is “very coherent with… Matta-Clark’s work in many ways,” Weinberg noted.

“[Hammons] has great attention to object-making; he’s a great craftsman and has a great sense of touch,” he said, adding that many of the artist’s works are “politically provocative.”

The Whitney Museum will raise the money for the piece from private donors, Weinberg added.

The project will likely cost “multiples of millions” of dollars, though the museum doesn’t have an exact estimate yet, he said after the presentation.

Installing the piece will take around eight to 10 months, and work will begin within the next few years, pending permitting, he noted.

The museum also plans to create public programs and compile an oral history of the neighborhood in conjunction with the the piece’s installation, Weinberg said.

“This site is full of history, and this piece is about, not just what is here, but... what is gone,” he said.

“To me, this is in a sense a monument for all the things that you lose on the waterfront — the loss, the erasure.”