As the High Line Park designs become more complete and polished, new concepts are being introduced and reviewed for the design of the park’s gathering spaces and permanent art installations, with one big idea coming from art star Jeff Koons. In an attempt to connect the High Line with its former industrial life, Koons proposes hanging a life-size replica of a train over the 10th Avenue Spur of the park’s third section. The crazy installation would bring a replica of a vintage train back to the High Line’s tracks — only instead of on them, the train would be suspended over the tracks on a giant crane.
The installation, aptly called “Train,” would not call for a modern train, but instead a replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive. The plan also calls for a crane spanning several stories to be positioned over the Spur meeting area, grasping the train car, so that the front of the train faces park visitors below. “Train” had been previously proposed for a possible plaza on 18th Street and 10th Avenue, as well as the Los Angeles Count Museum of Art. LACMA has even begun researching the implementation of the piece, but should the opportunity to install the piece at the High Line arise, the museum gives their full support, as the relation of the vintage locomotive to the High Line is more synonymous than a museum.
Although the installation has never before been realized, Koons worked closely with German fabricator, Arnold, to ensure the utmost in safety measures for both fabrication and installation of the hanging sculpture and estimated it would cost $25 million. “Train” has not been presented to community board meetings yet, as it is still just in the idea phase. But the hanging sculpture is not entirely far fetched, as Robert Hammond of the High Line points out that just a few years ago, people thought transforming a set of disused train tracks into a park was preposterous.
We can’t say that we’re big fans of the installation (it looks rather dumb in the rendering), but it could be quite impressive if realized. If Koons proposed hanging an actual vintage train instead of creating a replica from scratch, we might be more on board. That said, the New York Times has a few glowing comments from several New Yorkers, with the executive director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College calling it “probably one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see.”
What do you think? Yay or nay on the hanging train?