High Line Art announces 57 Forms of Liberty, a new High Line Commission by artist Ibrahim Mahama as part of the group exhibition ‘The Musical Brain’, opening at The High Line, New York, in April 2021. Mahama’s work will be installed on the High Line’s Northern Spur Preserve over 10th Avenue at 16th Street, and will be on view from April 2021 through March 2022.
The exhibition was originally planned for 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ibrahim Mahama, 57 Forms of Liberty, is organized by Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art. For the High Line, Mahama presents 57 Forms of Liberty, an inverted industrial tank from a defunct manufacturing facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. The installation is inspired by a rusted smokestack the artist saw at the locomotive workshop in Sekondi, Ghana that now has a tree growing from its mouth. For Mahama, the workshop is an important reference to the British use of railways to divide and exploit resources until Ghana regained its independence in 1957. By installing this work on the High Line, Mahama draws connections across continents between these different industrial histories. The sculpture on the High Line also has a tree growing from its top, an important image for the artist that mirrors the torch of the Statue of Liberty to the south, and the non-human agents that continue to reinvent the conditions for living on this planet, even among the structures built and abandoned by humans. Ibrahim Mahama uses large-scale installations of found materials to reference the movement of goods and people around the world. He has wrapped entire buildings with tapestries of jute sacks sewn together by hundreds of volunteers, stacked wooden crates to create imposing walls, and replaced the flags of the United Nations with tattered food sacks. By using these containers for shipping goods, Mahama points to how it’s often easier for commodities to transverse borders than it is for people. For Mahama, it is important to bring together objects from different times and places to better understand their shared histories.
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