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New York Approves David Hammons’s Proposed Hudson River Sculpture

A spectral public art installation proposed by David Hammons that would permanently hover above the Hudson River has been given the go-ahead from New York State, moving the project closer to realization. Democratic senator Brad Hoylman announced the legislation on Twitter yesterday. The sculpture, which would be erected across the street from the Whitney Museum of American Art—which is overseeing the work—outlines, with brushed stainless steel poles, a 373-foot-long and fifty-foot-tall shed once located at Pier 52. “As we move ahead, we are extremely grateful for the tremendous support this project has received from the local community, elected officials, and many others,” a spokesperson for the Whitney told Artnet, adding that the museum is seeking both public and private funding for the project. 

The planned work, announced in September and titled Day’s End, pays homage to a 1975 work of the same name by Gordon Matta-Clark, who transformed the derelict warehouse into a place of worship—he called it a “sun and water temple”—by carving out five vaguely lunar holes into its walls, floor, and ceiling, through which sunlight would decant. According to the Whitney, Hammons’s piece will serve as a “ghost monument” to the original—and unauthorized—Day’s End, which faced legal action by the city, though charges were later dropped. Hammons’s work would also serve as a monument to the history and culture of Manhattan’s waterfront, once a haven for New York’s queer community. Jane Crawford, Matta-Clark’s widow, expressed approval for Hammons’s sparse sculpture, which would remain unlit at night. “It’s very poetic, so beautiful,” she told the New York Times. “I’m so honored, as I know Gordon would be were he here.” 

The work is expected to be donated by the museum to the Hudson River Park Trust if completed, though the Whitney would still be responsible for its upkeep. A spokesperson for the Whitney said that there are many steps required for the work to reach completion. According to Our Town, the sculpture would be built off-site and would take ten months to construct. The project would also include oral histories by community members, as well as a documentary about the work’s creation.