The Shed For Emerging Artists To Shine

In 2019, a £418m multidisciplinary arts centre will open in New York with a mission to blur the lines between high and low art by giving young artists a colossal platform.

Rising adjacent to New York’s popular High Line, is The Shed. When it opens in the Spring of 2019, this immense open structure of steel and glass will be the city’s first multi-arts centre designed to commission, produce, and present various types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture. Designed by two New York firms, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, The Shed will be a 200,000 sq-foot, six level centre enveloped by a moveable shell. The centre will consist of a museum, a theatre, several events spaces, and creative labs for emerging artists. The shell rests on 6 foot high wheels, which will roll the outer structure away from the internal structure, creating a voluminous 17,000 square foot event space. It will be a 21st century version of Cedric Price’s proposals for Fun Palace, which was part of the inspiration for The Shed.

The Shed, Source-rockwellgroup.com

The Shed, Source-rockwellgroup.com

The Shed, Source-rockwellgroup.com

The Shed, Source-rockwellgroup.com

The Shed, Source-dsrny.com

The Shed, Source-dsrny.com

For two weeks in May 2018, we had A Prelude to The Shed, a temporary and much smaller forerunner of The Shed. Whereas the latter will have a flexible shell, the former had a flexible interior, with large leather chairs on wheels configured based on the activity. Think of A Prelude to The Shed as an appetizer or a foretaste of things to come: a steel shed with a gable roof, open at one end, and a small plaza at the front. Designed by Lagos-based architecture and urbanism firm, NLÉ and artist Tino Sehgal, the Prelude gave community art groups a performance space in Midtown Manhattan, if only for 13 days, as part of NYCxDESIGN. There were live concerts, hip hop street ballet, experimental courses for teenagers, art exhibitions, and discussion panels on heavy topics from spirituality to art history. Two weeks of free events and activities, with each day full of programming breaking down barriers between disciplines.

A Prelude to The Shed, Photo -Tim Schenck

A Prelude to The Shed, Photo -Tim Schenck

In an article in late April 2018, Alex Poots, The Shed’s artistic director, said that the centre “is interested in the advancement of art forms, whereas other institutions are about preserving the treasures of the past.” The mission is to critique what gets considered as art, and to demolish the separation between high and low in art. It is also to challenge existing notions of art and ask why art created or performed by a 18 year old in the streets is not of the same value as art from someone with a masters degree in a gallery.

“The original idea for The Shed was relatively simple: provide a place for artists working in all disciplines to make and present work for audiences from all walks of life,” explained Poots at the announcement of the 2019 inaugural season. “Our opening programs begin to show how these artists, art forms, and audiences can thrive together under one roof.”

A Prelude to The Shed Photo by Scott Rudd Events

A Prelude to The Shed Photo by Scott Rudd Events

A Prelude to The Shed Source nleworks.com

A Prelude to The Shed Source nleworks.com

A Prelude to The Shed Source nleworks.com

A Prelude to The Shed Source nleworks.com

In the Spring of 2019, The Shed’s first season will begin with live musical shows by established artists and producers, and an open call for emerging New York City-based artists of all disciplines to develop and showcase their work. Think of The Shed as a high tech, New York version of the Serpentine Galleries. Hans Ulrich Obrist has even joined The Shed’s team as a part-time Senior Program Advisor, which allows him to continue in his current role as the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries.

“When Alex and I were introduced, soon after he started the Manchester Festival, we realised we have a very similar way of working,” said Obrist at the 2019 season preview.“Everything has to do with asking artists about the projects they haven’t been able to realise within existing settings, then making them happen.”

The Shed, Source-dsrny.com

The Shed, Source-dsrny.com

Words Phil Roberts


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