The summer has kicked off with a bang. Art events and openings seem to be more prevalent than usual, summer known for being a slow season for galleries etc., this year appears to be different. Great shows are opening every week and many galleries have experimented with Tuesday and Wednesday night openings, maybe assuming that people leave town Thursday evening. MoMA PS1 is in swing with their Saturday Warm-Up parties and have expanded to a few previously unused buildings for Rockaway! an exhibition featuring Resilience Of The Dreamer by Patti Smith, The Forty Part Motet (2001) by Janet Cardiff and From The Series Brick Farm (2013) by Adrián Villar Rojas. On opening day, a selection of poems by Walt Whitman were read by Smith and James Franco. Another hip up and coming (pun intended) venue for contemporary art, is the Knockdown Center in Ridgewood, Queens. Having teamed up with The Clocktower Gallery and Alanna Heiss, the venue is a little off the beaten path, or in this case more than a stone’s throw from the L train at the Jefferson stop, but it is worth a visit. Previously a factory, the space has undergone serious renovation and stepping through the threshold is as if stepping into an underground venue in Berlin. On a sunny day, light streams in from newly pained windows creating tiger stripes of brightness throughout the interior. For a particular event that occurred on July 5th titled “Anxious Spaces: Performance Festival” curated by Joe Ahearn and Alanna Heiss, the day was ripe with various performances scheduled almost every half hour. The event started with drummer of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Brian Chase in a digitally wired Drum Circle and later “Bubbled” a dance performance and installation by Christian Joy, known for her elaborate costume designs for Karen O, also of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. A smattering of people stood around and moved to and from designated performance locations. It didn’t feel unmanageable and on the contrary, offered a perfect setting for a weekend. However don’t, as the kids would say, sleep on this space. The Knockdown Center is here to stay and will soon have lines at the door.
Also on view are several great group shows. Two worth mentioning are Bloodflames Revisited at Paul Kasmin Gallery and Go With The Flow at The Hole. Aesthetically quite different, both exhibitions offer an escape from the hot city streets, one visually stripped down, the other quite full. At The Hole, the focusing on spray paint and artists such as Wendy White, Evan Gruzis, and David Ostrowski (amongst others) who use the medium as an integral part of their painting practice. The works are all abstract and minimal but also quite engaging and function as a backdrop to an event but could also fill hours of time for contemplation regarding space, color theory and art history. Really, the show is that good and the work easy to live with, perfect timing to acquire a painting from this hot group of artists. At Paul Kasmin, both gallery locations, Phong Bui, artist, curator, editor of the Brooklyn Rail, pays homage to Bloodflames, an exhibition originating in 1947 organized by Nicolas Calas and designed by Frederick Kiesler. The first Bloodflames, projected artwork on the walls of the gallery, tilted in an irregular format. Bloodflames Revisited, brings together a diverse group of artists, and the irregularity presented in both locations, takes shape by way of bright red, raised wooden platforms, a walk way in the center of each gallery, offering higher ground from a floor otherwise covered in thick, ochre hay. Originally, thought to be an artwork, I spoke to gallery staff and Phong Bui about this spatial intervention.
Katy Diamond Hamer: I love the hay! I spoke with one of the girls in the gallery and they told me it is your creation. The smell is amazing as well.
Phong Bui: Yes, that is true. Not only is there a smell but it [the elevated platform] differentiates between surfaces, soft and hard, high and low. Changing the experience for the visitor and how the artist is observed.
For this current incarnation of Bloodflames, Bui has brought together works by Lynda Benglis, Michael Joo, Alex Katz, Cindy Sherman and others. Many works have been installed on bright orange walls, while some sculptures are nestled in the hay. Unlike Go With The Flow at The Hole, which has pristine walls and floor, both covered in plastic emulating a “spray booth” and bringing a further sterility to the interior, Bloodflames Revisited has the potential to get messy. Both of these exhibitions force the viewer to be conscious of his or her own foot placement and body mass as the physical interruption of the interior, whether hay or plastic.
On view at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Greenwich Village, is mapsricardoikea an installation by none other than the gallery director himself. Brown, who was trained as an artist, has sectioned off a corner Gallery II and in an unmarked doorway, is a carpeted room, with a projector spinning on a pedestal, projecting the interior of a living space -kitchen, dining room, etc- on the white walls. For approximately 15 minutes of the 30 minute projection, a sound is present but functions more as audio sculpture versus narrative accompaniment. No matter where one stands, the projected light will be interrupted by his or her body. The work is surprisingly inclusive especially since its exterior is quite cold and off-putting. Mapsricardoikea is a piece that requires an exploratory nature and patience especially if arriving at a time of projected silence. Listening to the blaring blur of an identifiable drone is well worth the wait.
The Knockdown Center is located at 52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rockaway!, sponsored by MoMA PS1 and the Rockaway Artists Alliance is on view and open to the public Thursday-Sunday noon – 6PM at Fort Tildon until September 1st. (Note: The Janet Cardiff installation will be on view only until August 17th).
Bloodflames Revisited, is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery until August 15th, 2014.
Go With The Flow, will be on view at The Hole until August 17th, 2014.
mapsricardoikea is on view at GBE until August 1st, 2014.