10 sculptures, carried with strangers.
Polystyrene, fiberglass, cerastone, wood, latex, aluminum, particle board, steel, plexiglass. Dimensions variable.
Performance at the South Street Seaport, for Out to See, a weekend-long art event curated by Sara Reisman.
What is the relationship between the visual landscape of the City and the visual language of your sculptures in this project? Are they related in your mind?
The project was inspired by 3 commercial real estate developers active in Lower Manhattan. The sculptures I designed are all sort of ubiquitous and innocuous looking, really they could blend in almost anywhere, but they relate directly to specific sites and buildings. The Seaport is a historic commercial center and it has a fascinating history with everything from the old port and mafia run fish market, the now bankrupt tourist shopping mall, recent attempts at farmers markets, and now luxury redevelopment. The South Street Seaport is currently being managed and re-branded by the Howard Hughes company. They are leasing this publicly owned land from the city to build a new four story mall with high end fashion and dining. This redevelopment of Pier 17 has been contested and the community somewhat successfully shot down previous plans which included 500 foot condominium tower and hotel. So this is the context I was thinking about– the clashing of the various interests, histories of development, and the shifting economic factors which have shaped the landscape there. I am interested in particular in the bland, innocuous forms that mark contemporary commercial space–aesthetically in what the physical reality of that kind of “development” looks like. How things like planters, architectural decor, pedestrian obstacles, and decorative trash cans shape our experience of the city, how they erase or expose our history.
When bodies carried the sculptures, what happened to them? Visually and/or phenomenologically? How do you think it affected their relationship to the City?
I wanted bodies to have to negotiate with these objects in public. By literally asking people to carry them with me we had to engage with their materiality, assume some implication in their existence and some agency over what we did with them.
You create objects easily mistaken for their own referent -- a trashcan that is unwittingly used as a trashcan by a gallery visitor, for example. Why is this slippage important to you?
I think I enjoy the moment when someone has to question their assumed relationship to an object that is generally kind of invisible or forgettable.
Rachel Higgins is an interdisciplinary artist currently working in Brooklyn. Her work has been recently exhibited at Kristen Lorello, NY; Asya Geisburg, NY; SUNY Purchase, NY; Knockdown Center, Brooklyn, NY; EFA Project Space, NY; Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; the Flint Public Art Project, Flint, MI; and Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT. She was a recipient of the 2011 Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship and has also been awarded residencies with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2013-2014 Workspace Program, the Build-It-Green Re-use Center in Astoria, Queens, and Real Time & Space in Oakland, CA. Higgins received an MFA from Hunter College in 2010.