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What Are You Waiting For?

SEP 9, 2013

YI Leader Hannah wheat pastes posters to the construction fence surrounding the new Whitney building, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak

YI Leader Hannah wheat pastes posters to the construction fence surrounding the new Whitney building, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak

On July 30, a special public art project was installed on the construction fence surrounding the new Whitney building site, by the entrance of the High Line at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets. The project, entitled “What Are You Waiting For?”, is a collaboration between teens in the 2012-2013 Youth Insights Leaders program and the artist Gary Simmons. The Leaders and Simmons began brainstorming ideas for the project in February and were drawn to the theme of waiting: waiting for trains, waiting for the end of high school, waiting for the beginning of college, and of course, waiting for the Whitney to open its new building in 2015. The Leaders collected anonymous written responses to the question “What Are You Waiting For” from their peers, teens in the Youth Insights Artists and Writers programs, and classmates. A collage of these responses was created, photographed, and transformed into posters to install at the site.

Scraping the existing posters off the construction wall, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Leaders mix the wheat paste, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Getting down and dirty with the wheat paste, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Gary Simmons helps Zeus hang the first few posters, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
The busy scene—with the Whitney construction site in the background!—as the project gets underway, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
YI Leader Michelle puts the finishing touches on the wall, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
A job well done! Leaders and YI volunteers with Gary Simmons, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
A passerby pauses to look at the completed installation, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Leaders and volunteers from the Youth Insights Summer Intensive met with Whitney staff members and Gary Simmons in the morning to begin the installation process. One group of volunteers began taking old posters off the construction fence and prepped the surface for the project. Another group prepared a large bucket of wheat paste as the adhesive for the posters. The teens, Whitney staff, and Simmons began pasting and hanging the posters in an assembly-line type system: two people rolled wheat paste on the back of posters, one person rolled wheat paste on the wall, another person attached the posters to the wall, and several people sealed them in with more wheat paste, paintbrushes, and squeegees. Once the fence was completely covered, the group added another finishing touch―a poster explaining the concept behind the artwork. Passersby  stopped to ask about the project, take photographs, and read the confessions and secrets on the posters. Please stop by and take a look at What Are You Waiting For? underneath the staircase to the main entrance of the High Line on the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets!

By Niki, Youth Insights Leader