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David Hammons’s Phantom Pier on Hudson River Approved by New York State

The monumental sculpture will trace the outlines of a now-demolished 19th century salt shed, once made into an artwork by Gordon Matta-Clark

Rendering of David Hammons, Day’s End. Courtesy: Guy Nordenson and Associates

Rendering of David Hammons, Day’s End. Courtesy: Guy Nordenson and Associates

Rendering of David Hammons, Day’s End. Courtesy: Guy Nordenson and Associates

The New York State legislature has approved plans for a monumental new public artwork by David Hammons. Situated across the road from the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is leading on the construction and maintenance of the artwork, the sculpture traces the skeleton structure of a now-demolished 19th century salt shed, on Manhattan’s Pier 52, by the Hudson River.

Gordon Matta-Clark once took over the forgotten pier and turned it into an artwork. In 1975, he cut holes in the walls to create what he called a ‘sun and water temple’. Hammons’s piece, also titled Day’s End after the Matta-Clark piece, is to serve as a ‘ghost monument’ to the original (unlike today, Matta-Clark’s intervention resulted in an arrest warrant in the 1970s). Jane Crawford, Matta-Clark’s widow, told the New York Times: ‘It’s very poetic, so beautiful. I’m so honoured, as I know Gordon would be were he here.’

The Whitney says that Hammons’s proposal, which uses thin steel poles to trace the outlines of the shed, will serve as a tribute to the Gordon Matta-Clark artwork, but also the history of the New York waterfront, ‘from the nineteenth and early twentieth-century pier sheds that stood along the Hudson River during the heyday of New York’s shipping industry to the reclaimed piers that became an important gathering place for the gay community.’

Read Coco Fusco’s 1995 feature on Hammons from our archives, ‘Wreaking Havoc on the Signified’.

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