The Shed opens its doors in New York

At the push of a button, you can move the 4,000-tonne shell of the shed across the forecourt like a container crane and create a 37-meter-high heated hall above it, which is technically equipped with everything you could want from an event location.

Elisabeth Diller: “The building opens and closes as if by magic. A 15 HP motor is enough to move it via a mechanical gear system. The entire weight rests on eight wheels and it then simply rolls into position. It only takes five Minutes and is absolutely noiseless. “

A flexible cultural center of the future

For architect Elizabeth Diller, the Shed – many also say “the” Shed, as if she were a transgender person to emphasize impartiality and changeability – the answer to the question of what a “flexible cultural center of the future” could look like.

The City of New York’s tender ten years ago was vague: “We were thinking about flexibility and wondering how can we build a building for a future that we cannot foresee?”

Cedric Price’s visions

She then used the visionary ideas of the British architect Cedric Price, who died in 2003, and the modern industrial architecture of a container port.

“The first model was just a box of matches …”

… recalls curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who was involved in the deliberations from the start. For Cedric Price, whose ideas repeatedly revolved around how to develop a flexible “architecture of entertainment“, the mobility of architecture was decisive: “He always said that a building shouldn’t occupy a space, we should only then occupy when we need it and when we don’t need it, it should free up the space again. “

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In the attempt to implement these revolutionary ideas, a spectacular building was created, with more than 7,500 square meters of exhibition and performance space on six floors – that is, together, the size of a football field – including a theater with 500 seats and the huge outdoor hall.

Like a silvery-white, cube-shaped spaceship on wheels with a skin of quilted triangles made of Teflon-coated plastic, it sits in the middle of the towers of the Hudson Yard, some of which are more than 380 meters high.

Der Soundtrack of America

With his opening program, Artistic Director Alex Poots shows that he is very serious about innovation. Together with filmmaker Steve McQueen, for example, he wants to make the history of African American music audible. In the five-part American Soundtrack concert, they brought together 25 largely unknown artists to create a family tree for this music.

Why unknown artists? Because the Shed wants to move into the future, says Axel Poots: “The most influential art form of the last 100 years worldwide is African American music and its origins are completely unknown.”

The Shed, New York ( ()

For cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon, the fact that the Shed opens with American Soundtrack is a political sign:

“It’s important to appreciate the importance of this music. And it’s brave to open up with it. We live in a time of division, of” us versus them, “and the idea that those who don’t know aren’t real Americans are.”

Quality instead of quantity – also with the audience

Of course, Alex Poots brings an audience into the house right from the start that does not belong to the traditional audience of a cultural temple.

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“Our success will not depend on how many viewers come, but on what kind of viewers. I have problems with this madness of getting a thousand more visitors every year. That’s downright Kafka-esque. Audiences are also about quality in terms of the diversity and wealth of a society they represent. I would like to be judged by that in five or ten years. “

He knows that this will only work if he can keep the entrance fees low. It was his basic requirement to even start: “I would not have accepted the job if our workplace was not protected here, because it is on public land, is non-profit and has the right to give.”

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