Up Late: A Conversation with Rob Roth BY VICTORIA TRIPSAS | JULY 8, 2016
On July 21, as part of Friends of the High Line’s first-ever Up Late event on the High Line, we’re inviting visitors to roam the park after-hours and be transported as dancers, musicians, and visual artists illuminate the park with participatory performances, installations, and a world of hidden surprises.
Leading up to the event, we’ll be sitting down with artists contributing to the Up Late line-up to discuss what makes this event so unique—and why people shouldn’t miss it. As we count down to the event, be sure to check back here for more exclusive Q&As with Up Late artists.
First in our series is Rob Roth. The multiplatform, multimedia artist and director will transport his Up Late visitors back in time to 1990s-era New York through his audio soundscape, “Night Paving: The Aural History of Jackie 60 and Mother.”
We had the chance to catch up with Rob and hear more about what he’ll be bringing to Up Late.
Photo by Bobby Miller
Tell us a little bit about what you have planned for Up Late.
I will be presenting my audio installation “Night Paving: The Aural History of Jackie 60 and Mother.” It’s set up in the form of a silent disco and tells the story of the now-mythic Tuesday club night Jackie 60, as well as the nightclub it spawned, Mother. It’s essentially a storytelling piece with the founders, producers, performers, and instigators who were there and have “lived to tell the tale”: Chi Chi Valenti, Anohni, Debbie Harry, Joey Arias, Marc Jacobs, Alba Clemente, Sherry Vine, and many, many others, all over a specific soundtrack by DJ Johnny Dynell. The overlapping spoken memories string together the history of how this club began and speak of its decade-long run in the Meatpacking District from 1990 to its closing at the end of the 20th century.
What makes the High Line as a venue unique or challenging to your work?
The High Line is what makes the piece a site-specific work because of the section it will be located in, along Washington Street under The Standard , High Line. Participants will be able to view the site of the original location where Jackie 60 and Mother was located on the corner of West 14th and Washington Streets. One can listen to the piece and observe the stretch of Washington Street that is now unrecognizable from the descriptions in several of the stories [about] its former days as a nocturnal and seedy meat market where the Jackie 60 patrons would arrive through the blood-soaked cobblestone streets in their high heels.
The Meatpacking District in the 1990s, with the High Line to the left. Photo by Rob Roth.
How does your work speak to the New York community? What do you want attendees to take away from your performance/work?
This piece acts as a time capsule of a very specific and authentic moment in New York nightlife history that might have otherwise been forgotten in all the noise. I hope that people get a glimpse into this small section of a pre-9/11 New York, and what part of the downtown cultural landscape was like. I hope they keep one of the many stories in their memory, and that it pops into their mind the next time they visit the Meatpacking District, extending the folklore of this special time and place. (I also hope they dance a bit to the music). … For me, it’s my little love letter to New York and the magic that can happen here.
Join Rob, among many other artists who will be lighting up the night, on Thursday, July 21 on the High Line from Gansevoort to West 18th Streets from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM.