Grand Central's Horses
A herd of thirty large, peaceful, magnificent, and magical horses will be pastured in Grand Central Terminal.
Video credit: Jay Buim
It’s all part of Heard-NY, a much-anticipated seven-day performance produced by MTA Arts for Transit and Creative Time in honor of GCT’s centennial. The “horses” are sixty dancers from The Ailey School inhabiting “Soundsuits” created by renowned artist Nick Cave.
Every day at 11 a.m and 2 p.m. from Monday, March 25 to Sunday, March 31, the herd will perform specially choreographed movements to live music as they cross the Terminal, swaying and swishing their long, colorful, embellished coats.
“MTA Arts for Transit and Creative Time are launching Nick’s first large-scale public art project in New York,” says Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design. “We’re excited to present this historic event celebrating Grand Central’s Centennial in a monumental way with this contemporary art experience that engages the public in the celebration. Nick, an artist we have long admired, along with the Ailey School students, are creating an ephemeral experience that will be remembered by its audience as an enchanting moment in New York City’s history.
Known for his elaborate costume-sculptures that mix fantasy, found objects, and cross-cultural references, Cave has created life-size “horses” with raffia coats that create calm, swooshing sounds as they move. Cave hopes that the magical presence and sound of his special heard will lull rushing New Yorkers into a more peaceful, contemplative state of mind: “I’m trying to create a moment that brings us back to dreaming and fantasy, to a state of mind where we can think about alternative ways of being.”
Between performances, the Soundsuits will be displayed in Vanderbilt Hall so Cave’s sculptures can be enjoyed up close. Using patterns and materials evoking India, Tibet, Morocco, and other parts of the world, the richly layered references embedded in Cave’s herd is likely to resonate strongly with the one that thunders across the GCT concourse daily, just as Pegasus thunders across the heavens as depicted in the sky ceiling of the Main Concourse.
“A lot of people are working together behind the scenes to make the magic take place next week,” explains Amy Hausmann, Arts for Transit assistant director. “Heard-NY could not happen without our enthusiastic and supportive partners – the volunteers who are helping on-site, our colleagues at MTA Marketing and Transit who helped with the promotion in stations and on trains, Jones Lang LaSalle, Metro-North and the entire Grand Central team – security, MTA Police, and the Fire Brigade plus the incredible staff at Creative Time and Arts for Transit, especially Jessica Wallen who coordinated AFT’s efforts for this project. The collaboration has been tremendous.”
So, enjoy looking for the horses. You may find the entire herd in Vanderbilt Hall, see groups in the main concourse, or discover a few elsewhere in the Terminal. As you pause, think about the time when horses were a part of daily city life and when horsepower was just that.