Sunday, May 24, 2009
Exploring alternatives to the gallery system
Time Out NY April 16th, 2009
As many of our favorite glass-fronted white cubes scuttle their Chelsea operations, pressured by exorbitant rents and stagnant sales, it’s a great time to take a harder look at those individuals and institutions harnessing their ambitions to unconventional structures and spaces less affected by the slump, as these ways of “thinking outside the box” are proving to have staying power. Whether art spliced with sustainable city planning or a call for artists to build their own structures that operate as ad hoc museums, the below projects are related in their relative freedom from or flaunting of contemporary market concerns.
e-flux, 41 Essex St between Grand and Hester Sts (212-619-3356). Subway: F, V to Lower East Side–Second Ave. A gallery presentation of the 1997 book project by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Guy Tortosa, this show offers the unrealized proposals of 107 artists (Louis Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer, the Chapman Bros., etc.) in blueprint pages spanning the gallery interior. Though it’s installed in a conventional white-walled context (e-flux’s new LES space), experiencing the show means entering the speculative environs generated by some of art’s more ambitious thinkers—there is a wonderful freedom in the fact that these vaulting ambitions are completely unrestrained by material tethers.
Exit Art Underground, 475 Tenth Ave between 36th and 37th Sts (212-966-7745). Subway: A, C, E to 34th St. Through May 23. The third in an Exit Art series, SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics), this show brings architects and artists together to present existing vertical farms, urban gardens and green roof projects, as well as speculations on a future of more sustainable urban planning—visions with a deliciously sci-fi effect. Free lectures on April 21 and 22, and an indoor composting workshop, are detailed here.
Matt Bua, “Architectural Cribbage”
Ongoing. Matt Bua’s “Architectural Cribbage” amounts to a platform for empowering people to define their own architectural surroundings, free from the normalizing strictures of building code. Through an ongoing open call, Bua along with Max Goldfarb organized a clearinghouse of hundreds of visionary architectural drawings ( available online at www.drawingbuilding.org, which serve as potential designs for 12-by-12-foot structures built at Bua’s woodsy Catskills site, “b-home”). Artists are encouraged to install their own personal collections of odds, ends and artworks inside their visionary structures—an upheaval of gallery and real-estate conventions alike.—Brian Zegeer
Geoff Manaugh's thoughts on Cribs to Cribbage
Infantospatialism, or: adventures in crib design
CRIBS by Matt Bua is a "Kidpspace exhibition" at this sprawling, industrial-warehouse-turned-modern-art-museum in northwestern Massachusetts.
While CRIBS itself features "an overloaded crib complete with hanging mobiles, recorded 'lullabies,' and the bars that keep the infant safe," the exhibition's second part, ...To CRIBBAGE, is a kind of spatial escape act: the crib has come alive and is climbing out a nearby window: "To escape the chaos of the cluttered future that encroaches on it, the crib must breech the gallery walls, pouring itself down on the museum's entrance below."
Child-sized visitors can, in turn, crawl inside it: "This piece of crib can be entered outside the museum to experience the collaborative 'building game' Bua calls Architectural Cribbage, a game in which he encourages others to start constructing their own small-scale visionary spaces."
The dinosaur spine-like spaces created by this apparently sentient crib-structure – it's Lebbeus Woods meets Lincoln Logs by way of vertebrate biology – would seem rather nightmarish from a child's perspective, I'd imagine, but there's also a spatial honesty to that. After all, one of the earliest architectural spaces that a modern human being experiences is a small, enclosed space, locked behind bars – so cribs aren't necessarily reassuringly womb-like environments.
In fact, I don't mean to show up 100 years late to the child-rearing game here, but surely there has been some architectural writing about the formative psychological influence that such cribs might have?
At the very least, this sounds like an amazing article for Volume magazine: Jeffrey Inaba and Benedict Clouette visit the world's largest crib designers and manufacturers – in Holland, the States, Canada, Japan – and, amidst on-the-spot New Yorker-style reportage direct from the factory floors (the milling machines, the workers, the design team and their tables full of Macs), they show multiple photographs of different crib spaces. Dimension, color, material choice, layout. It's the crib as primordial space research.
Pair this, then, with a series of short interviews with development psychologists – and even neurophysicians who have taken research into spatial perception and the infant brain into uncharted realms – and you're talking National Magazine Award, baby! Damn. I'd read that.
Matt Bua's CRIBS is on display at MASS MoCA till September 7, 2009.