Line Up

Lisa Sigal, Line Up, 2008, project proposal
Courtesy the artist

Line Up

Artist: Lisa Sigal

Line-up, 2008
Paint, Tyvek, metal, plastic, map, compasses, and documentation
Courtesy the artist

Lisa Sigal’s Line-up began as a proposal to “paint” a gesture into the surroundings of the New Museum. Looking out the glass front of the fifth-floor Resource Center, Sigal chose a color in the landscape to amplify and exaggerate: the seafoam green bicycle lane on Prince Street. A metaphor for the effects of the New Museum on its new neighborhood, Sigal imagines the line continuing into the horizon and beyond. In the realization of this project in New York, Sigal worked with individuals and organizations, depending upon their cooperation, counsel, and support to shape the final project. Inspired by the Museum as Hub project, Sigal also worked with artists Essam Abdallah, Erwin van Doorn, Paulina Lasa, and Sangdon Kim—-each involved with Museum as Hub partner projects in Cairo, Eindhoven, Mexico City, and Seoul, respectively—-to find ways to continue the line around the world. Photographs document each artist’s interpretation of Sigal’s request in the context of his or her surroundings, the angle of the line alluding to the next appearance of Sigal’s line in its global circumnavigation.

Artist Statement

The project that I propose for the New Museum in September 2008 will map a painted line from a distant point working its way towards the museum and then beyond. The line will cross over water towers, rooftops, sides of buildings and on a window shade or two. The drawing’s frame will be the New Museum’s fifth floor windows and seventh floor balcony. My drawing will survey the landscape but unlike a surveyor’s map, which diagrams the boundaries of particular parcels of land, my artwork will ignore these separations. My gesture will be an optimistic way of reconfiguring a connection between buildings and the sky as a vast limitless expanse.

The Bowery was at one point in real danger of being destroyed. In the 1940s there was an initiative by Robert Moses and Mayor Fiorello Laguardia to build a highway through lower Manhattan. The expressway would have run through the neighborhood where the New Museum now stands and displaced many families and businesses. My proposal courses a visual sight line very much like the expressway that was never realized: from the Holland Tunnel, across Soho, and east to the Williamsburg Bridge. But my work will make a modest gesture from one neighborhood to the next without the physical devastation of an expressway.

The painting will play off the painted color in the urban landscape. It will rearrange the rules by which we understand the view, making two things interdependent: the logic of facts and the logic of fictions. The facts are the existing colors (the sea green bike lane or a row of yellow rooftop planters) seen in relation to my gesture, and then pieced together by a viewer. As the poet Anne Carson says in “The Life of Towns,” “You will at first think I am painting the lines myself; it’s not so. I merely know where to stand to see the lines that are there. And the mysterious thing, it is a very mysterious thing, is how these lines do paint themselves.”

My drawing, as an agreement, will bring together a range of people, businesses, and city departments, all with different concerns. The cooperation of groups of people will shape the final work, being a testament to what constitutes a neighborhood. If one really looks, there is a way to collapse the differences and see the lines that connect us, one life to the next, one building to another, a neighborhood with the next.