Artist Sam Durant Sends a Message With An Enormous Abstracted Drone For New York's High Line Plinth

  • June 02, 2021 11:58

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Sam Durant, Untitled (drone), 2016-2021 (rendering). Proposal for the High Line Plinth. Commissioned by High Line Art.

Artist Sam Durant and Chief Curator of High Line Art Cecilia Alemani will unveil Durant’s new large-scale public artwork Untitled (drone), a fiberglass sculpture depicting a Predator drone that is mounted 25 feet high, next Monday at the High Line Plinth, located on the High Line at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, Manhattan. The work will be on public view through August 2022.

For the Plinth, Durant created Untitled (drone), a sculpture in the shape of an abstracted drone sitting atop a 25-foot-tall steel pole. Durant removes all details from the drone—decals, landing gear, cameras, weapons—rendering it as a streamlined sculpture that evokes the biomorphic forms of Constantin Brancusi or Barbara Hepworth. Shaped from white fiberglass, the sculpture hovers above 10th Avenue, rotating on its steel pole as directed by the wind. With this work, Durant seeks to make visible the intentionally obscured drone warfare perpetuated by the US, and to remind the public that drones and surveillance are a tragic, menacing, and pervasive presence in the daily lives of many living outside—and within—the United States.

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The sculpture is modeled after the Predator drone, a remotely piloted aircraft that was used by the US military beginning in 1995 to conduct reconnaissance around the world and, later, airstrikes in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. Its successor is currently employed by US Customs and Border Protection to surveil the nation’s borders and in support of law enforcement agencies, most recently in May 2020 to monitor protestors in Minneapolis responding to the murder of George Floyd. Similar technologies also have been adopted domestically by companies facilitating widespread city-sanctioned surveillance. 

Sam Durant, Untitled (drone), 2016-2021 (rendering). Proposal for the High Line Plinth. Commissioned by High Line Art.

Untitled (drone) is meant to animate the question about the use of drones, surveillance, and targeted killings in places far and near, and whether as a society we agree with and want to continue these practices,” says artist Sam Durant. “Art is a place where we can speculate about alternatives, other possibilities, where we can bring forward things that are unsaid, unknown or hidden from view, and have discussions about them. Art offers us the opportunity to think about the world in new ways. In moments of crisis, this is extremely important.”

Untitled (drone) is the second High Line Plinth commission, following Simone Leigh’s Brick House which was on view from 2019 – May 2021. The Plinth is a landmark destination for major public artworks and features a rotating program of new monumental commissions.

Sam Durant was born in 1961 in Seattle, Washington and lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His work is represented in major collections worldwide, including Tate, London, England; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium.

For further information on High Line Art, please visit thehighline.org/art.


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