She Lives by the Piers

Nadja Abt

June 8, 2023, 5pm
The piers adjacent to the West Village were an “openly secret” cruising place in the seventies and eighties, especially for gay men. The mixture of danger, prohibition and sexual freedom led many artists of the time to mystify the place into a ship-like heterotopia on land. The black wooden stumps that rise almost aggressively out of the Hudson river remind us of a place for society’s marginalized.
In autobiographies or works by Samuel R. Delany, David Wojnarowicz, Alvin Baltrop, John Giorno, Gordon Matta-Clark, and David Hammons more recently, the piers that border the West Village have been widely present or quoted. With a few exceptions (such as Every Ocean Hughes and Shelley Seccombe), there is little cultural evidence of female-identifying artists at these piers. We know that some were there, but why has their story not entered the canon of Pier-Stories?

On June 8, our Spring 2023 resident Nadja Abt adds the beginnings of new chapter to this waterfront history. She invites everyone to a small parade around Pier 40 at Hudson River Park for a collective contribution to New York’s Herstory Seawomen Archive. She calls for contemporary witnesses and invites everyone who would like to occupy the piers for an hour of “critical fabulation” (Saidiya Hartman). During the walk you will be able to share your contribution with the other participants and become a visible, important part of the cultural (her)story around the piers.

Image: Nadja Abt, She Lives by the Piers, 2023. Courtesy the artist.

This event is free and open to all who are interested in listening and sharing, prior registration is recommended.

For Your Reference is a series of events that spotlights our current artists in residence and gives them a platform to share ongoing conversations, research, and references.