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Whitney On Site: Tauba Auerbach

AUG 9, 2010

A view of the site from the High Line above. Photograph by Danielle Canter

A view of the site from the High Line above. Photograph by Danielle Canter

For the second part of Whitney on Site: New Commissions Downtown, artist Tauba Auerbach transformed the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets into a vast excavation site with her work, Quarry.

Whitney Curator Gary Carrion-Murayari, bottom left, talks with museum staff during the installation at the site. Photograph by Danielle Canter

Whitney Curator Gary Carrion-Murayari, bottom left, talks with museum staff during the installation at the site. Photograph by Danielle Canter

Whitney curators approached Auerbach because she has a history with the Museum (she was most recently featured in 2010, the Biennial) and because her practice was well-suited to the project. “One of the most unique characteristics of the site is the variety of ways in which you view it,” curator Gary Carrion-Murayari explained. “Tauba’s work depends on optical experience that shifts and changes as you move through a space which made it a perfect fit. She’s very attentive to the viewer’s angle, distance, and state of movement or rest when viewing an artwork.”

A view of the installation process from under the High Line. Photograph by Danielle Canter

A view of the installation process from under the High Line. Photograph by Danielle Canter

In order to make the space appear like an active quarry, the trailers where the Friends of the High Line maintenance and operation teams work have been covered with printed vinyl decals that resemble giant slabs of marble. While this can best be observed from the High Line above, visitors can also get an interesting perspective from street-level, where Auerbach has created a tapestry-like design on one side of the surrounding fence by layering sheets of colored safety netting. On the opposite side, two offset chain link fences set in front of a blue tarp create a subtle moiré pattern. These interventions have radically transformed the space. Auerbach “is disguising the current function of the site as its used by the High Line, with suggestions of how the Whitney will make use of it in the future (by digging, excavating, sculpting, etc.). She was also very interested in elevating and transforming the space by using very basic building materials to create colorful and vibrant patterns," Carrion-Murayari explained.

The fence surrounding the site covered in sheets of colored safety netting. Photograph by Danielle Canter

The fence surrounding the site covered in sheets of colored safety netting. Photograph by Danielle Canter

Another aim of the project was to incite viewers to think about how we interact with these nearly invisible sites in our day-to-day life. “Tauba was interested in the range of visual experiences that we have each day and what they tell us about the world around us,” Carrion-Murayari noted.

Quarry, the second work in Whitney on Site: New Commissions Downtown, continues through August 29 at 830 Washington Street.

Stay tuned for the last downtown commission by Barbara Kruger this fall.