'Up Late' brings six artists to the High Line after dark—including art made with blood and silent glowing dancers.
The High Line is usually one of the more peaceful places tourists seek out when visiting New York City. But when six visual and audio artists took over the elevated strip between Gansevoort and West 18th Street just before midnight, it transformed from a tranquil path into an eerie, eclectic experience.
It might have remained an undiscovered event, but for the first signs of the immersive show, Up Late on the High Line, hosted by Friends of the High Line, floating down to street-level from above. At the event, Yael “KAT” Modiano and Ursula Sherrer perform electro-flute music, while costumed improvisers drip with glitter and flowers and dance back and forth across the path. As the space begins to fill with curious visitors, the music fades under the swelling noise of excited explorers.
They almost overwhelm three other sets: Merche Blasco’s “Sonic Bloom” offers everyone a chance to take a flashlight and sweep light through the Chelsea Grasslands, looking for sensors that send up musical notes (there are no extra flashlights at any moment). Rob Roth provides a silent disco to a soundtrack based on the history of “Jackie 60,” the legendary Tuesday club-night that gave birth to MOTHER, the nightlife hub. And The Dance Cartel takes over one of the biggest tunnel-like sections of the path, filling it with music, DJ’s, and dancers as performers with glowing hula-hoops spin near the entrance.
But two acts steal the show.
Jordan Eagles is an artist/activist whose creations in the wake of the Florida Pulse shooting protested the FDA gay blood ban. He encases, suspends, and illuminates preserved blood, using glass and old-fashion projectors, into different spaces. The High Line’s arched ceiling at 14th Street is his largest venue yet. He originally used the unique liquid and light show in his 2015 project, Blood Mirror, also aimed at addressing the discriminatory blood-donation policy against homosexual men.
“Tonight, the display uses cattle blood,” he tells The Creators Project. “The High Line used to be how they would transport cows to the Meatpacking District; the slaughterhouses were right around here. So it references the history of the neighborhood—there are still meat hooks hanging right over there.” With the eerie glow and blood patterns shining into the space and onto the walls, people look turned inside-out. Everyone seems reluctant to the leave the reverberating redness.
While Eagles’ show is set in one space, the Carte Blanche Performance Ox Prowl features silent actors gracefully gliding around the other exhibits at Up Late. The glowing dancers capture all attention as they float gently through the spectators, undisturbed by attempted conversations. Several rush to get selfies or close-ups of the human fireflies, but their glow wards off all touches as the crowds part around them.
As the night drifts on, the performers are seen less and less. But at the end of the path, on the lawn above 18th street, they gather for a silent dance. Some of them pull willing viewers into a waltz—one reaches out and gently lowers the camera of an onlooker before inviting her to dance as well. As their movements slowed, one by one they freeze in position, their lights dimming to darkness, before they collectively dart off the lawn and back down into the city.
Up Late on the High Line took place July 21st at 10pm. Click here for more events from Friends of the High Line.