Archive for the ‘HomeBase IV’ tag
A few months ago we blogged about an innovative art project under way in London by Antony Gormley called ‘One and Other’ where a new volunteer takes to the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square every hour for the next 100 days. Gormley, the creator of One and Other, wanted to take people from their daily lives and make them art as well as provide a different ‘view’ of life in their community. He also wanted to elevate ‘the ordinary citizen’ to a space usually occupied by admirals, kings and the like, to see the world from ‘up there’. More than 14,500 people have so far applied to stand on top of the platform, 22ft (6.7m) above Trafalgar Square. In an interview with the BBC, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson describes the project as “fantastic….it’s about capturing art for the people…democratizing art…a profound meditation on the nature of fame and talent.” To see life at the plinth so far, look below…
In a related venture about elevating ordinary life, Baltimore community members have been donating recycled items and volunteering to help build “The Reverse Ark,” an exhibition that illustrates the city’s industrial past. The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, will serve as gallery, laboratory, workplace and studio to explore the social and environmental history of Baltimore’s mills and textile industry through August 22, 2009. This extraordinary exhibition uses the idea of the ‘ark’ as a vessel for exploration and preservation, incorporating locally sourced waste and surplus materials including fallen trees, hundreds of floorboards from abandoned row homes, cast-off paper and surplus clothing and textiles into a multidisciplinary exhibit. Audience members are then encouraged to engage in public workshops, readings and discussions in an exploration of the environmental themes of the exhibition. The exhibit is organized by Futurefarmers, a San Francisco-based interdisciplinary collective of artists aligned through an open practice of making art that is socially, politically, and environmentally relevant.
These socially, politically and environmentally relevant art projects are also found in empty spaces all over small and large cities here in the US and abroad. Deborah wrote a few months ago about a vacant medical clinic on the Lower East Side in New York, HomeBase IV that was hosting a variety of artists exploring the notion of “home,” and engaging the residents of a changing neighborhood. As Deborah wrote, “gone is the presumption that art=object, or that art can only exist isolated from community in a building labeled as gallery or museum.” This last Friday, we attended the opening of the first Art Lab here in Fort Collins on Oak Street, where we listened to the sounds of the Art Lab Rats and watched artists come in and work in an empty space. Art Lab Fort Collins is a grassroots initiative dedicated to filling wonderful empty spaces buildings with art, innovation, music, smiling faces until a new tenant comes along. Check out their work!
These folks are in good company as “pop-up” contemporary art galleries emerge internationally. In Covent Garden, the “Watch this Space” exhibition in a former Italian restaurant showcases the work of 12 up-and-coming artists just off Drury Lane. The BBC reports that “the artists get the space for free, and the landlords would rather have the space busy and full of creativity than have it empty.” One of the photographers using the space, Ilaria Conte adds, “it’s fantastic…there was nothing around, completely empty, and now it is buzzing with people from the art world, from the media, and you get the opportunity to meet people from the art world and exchange ideas. It’s the perfect environment.” All over London and other UK towns and cities, temporary galleries are springing up in an effort to make city streets more appealing to those who inhabit them. These galleries are also extremely effective at starting conversations across generations, artists and communities about art and its relationship to community life. So if you know of empty spaces in the community which could use some light, laughter and life, let the folks at Art Lab know!
Finally, speaking of empty spaces, I read about an extremely interesting Land/Art exhibit under way in New Mexico currently which I thought might be interesting if you would like to get some art out of town! Land/Art involves a group of New Mexico arts organizations who collaboratively explore relationships of land, art, and community through exhibitions, site-specific art works, lectures, and a culminating book. Focusing on “environmental” or “land” art, the collaboration seeks to address our changing relationship to nature. The work is extraordinary and helps us begin to think about what we consider to be our ‘environment’ and the place in which we live, be it global, urban, digital, wild etc asking us to begin some earnest conversations around reclamation and remediation of art, space, place and community!
Whether your travels are at home or abroad, art travels with you. It’s time to get art out and about!
Last week, I wrote about creative economy, and although there’s a lot more to say and think about, today, I’m wondering about the products that make up the creative economy. The United Kingdom’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport defines creative industries as, “those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” While a creative product may exist as a physical entity (think paper, film, computer disk…), its value is in its meaning and what it represents—its content. The content/information of a creative product is boundless, but that content/information defines its value. Creativeclusters.org offers a good example, “Even with a designer T-shirt or a piece of [jewelry], it’s the style, the design that counts, not the cloth or the metal.”
This past weekend, on the Lower East side, New York, several artists and community organizations opened an exhibition, that puts this concept to the test. HomeBase IV, is an exhibition in a vacant medical clinic. This is not an exhibition of art created somewhere else and then transported into a pristine, neutral gallery for contemplation. A lot of what you can see in HomeBase IV, was created from materials found in the existing space. The creative product, the process, the content, and the experience of visiting the site give the project value.
“’When we arrived, it had nothing in it,’ said Leor Grady, the curatorial and programming director of the project. ‘It smelled like a combination of mildew, chemicals, medical waste and sheet rock.’ Even after a cleaning, the worn peachy-beige walls, industrial carpeting and fluorescent lighting retain a sterility that serves as a palette for the sometimes unsettling works.”
A variety of artists collaborated to explore the notion of “home,” in this specific space (unused clinic) and to engage the residents of a changing neighborhood. This means that the artists met together, talked, read, and interacted with the public to determine what would happen in the space, as well as worked to design what a visitor can see. (See images) All at once, the meaning for the project/action is in the process and its space–the product becomes spatial, as it connects people, place, and time. Gone is the presumption that art=object, or that art can only exist isolated from community in a building labeled as gallery or museum. As reported in the New York Times, one of the artists, Paul Sepuya, a Brooklyn photographer of Ugandan descent eloquently describes his reality and makes his experience tangible. “I thought it would be interesting to apply the idea of home as spatial,” he says. “When you’re not at home, it’s constructed by your family’s stories.” His contribution to the exhibition includes portraits of friends and neighbors who like him, have some association with Uganda—a “home” that Sepuya has never visited! Another artist, Dafna Shalom took photos of men in the neighborhood who reminded her of her father — a hand here, a hairstyle there. Our realities are often constructed through small gestures that we don’t notice, but become intriguing when we stop and think. If a smelly, unused, and dingy health clinic in New York, can be reinvented as a site for building community and thinking about the meaning of “home,” what are we overlooking?
Creative economy is driven by creative industry. Products are reorganized from seeming non-existence, although the ideas and materials may already have been there. Ideas are what transforms materials and what can transform people, neighborhoods, cities, and towns! There are lots of creative spaces and events that promote thinking in and about Fort Collins. This week we can think about caring for each other by simply eating out to help United Way of Larimer County. Later in the week, think about places that used to be here but only exist as fading away signs painted on buildings in Old Town, or join others to think about an area of Fort Collins that will grow in the future. You can contemplate exhibitions about Dreams, Floating Worlds, and art made by senior citizens. Perhaps you’ll ride the trolley and think about public transport, or learn more about the public art that helps create a sense of place in our city. All the details are at www.visitfortcollins.com!
The whole world is a museum without walls!