Temporary Storage in cura. Magazine


Posted by cura. magazine July 22nd, 2011

by marco antonini

From marginal area and playground for the imperfect, to an integral part of the New York art scene, Bushwick follows the history of ‘alternative’ neighbourhoods that touched the West Village and Williamsburg, the East Village and the Lower East Side (pre-revival), Soho and Chelsea.

Bushwick, located at the east of Williamsburg, is experiencing an interesting process of transformation: the recent softening of the real estate market played an important role in the development of this area as a symbol of renaissance and growth, giving young artists and dealers the possibility to rent or buy spaces and flats, especially in the area between the stops of Grand Street and Jefferson on the L line. It’s true that Bushwick remained an open yard, an area of decompression and experimentation in the past ten years, but it’s also true that things are changing rapidly. New spaces emerged, representing a Bushwick made of artists, cultural operators and dealers with a continuity and quality of programs.

Created by Jason Andrew (director of Norte Maar, a well known non-profit located in a flat a few steps from Jefferson subway) and by the neighbourhood’s artist-activist Deborah Brown, Storefront is a real bet. A tiny commercial gallery run without idealism and with a good deal of attention to cross-generations and multidisciplinarity. The space is located on Wyckoff Avenue (close to other relevant galleries such as English Kills and Western Front) and it represents the transforming attitude of the neighbourhood to a new phase, made of long-term goals. Storefront already won its battle to assure a top visibility to its projects in a seemingly peripheral location. The space collected reviews and praises on the most important specialised press, demonstrating – if this was necessary – that the location is just one factor in the success of a gallery, and that ideas, especially in this city, still come before everything else.

A more than legitimate son of Brooklyn Fire Proof (a well known studio for video, photography and post-production with a bar and gallery active in Bushwick for several years and with an address also in Manhattan), Temporary Storage is a series of projects hosted in the BFP gallery and in a recording studio a few steps away from it. The minds behind Temporary Storage are Jennifer Piejko and Shinae Lee, a writer and an artist, who met years ago while both working for a gallery in Chelsea. Both are personally curating the program of events but are open to external proposals and sometimes they offer projects already shown somewhere else. Multidisciplinarity and generational exchange are fundamental to the activity, together with a particular attention to performance – probably for the direct influence of BFP, which has a long tradition of performance space residency.

The story of Fortress to Solitude represents clearly the idea of the possibilities offered by Bushwick. An unfinished luxury building: a total fiasco for someone, a precious opportunity for others. The three-floor space feels more domestic than one could imagine, with floors, finishing and home appliances that reveal their original function. Guillermo Creus, Argentinian-Brasilian artist and curator based in New York, ‘borrowed’ the space for one year, and produced a series of small and large group shows, which draw the attention of the art world. Recently the three floors (with garden) went back on construction, bringing F2S to a total nomadism and a web-oriented activity. A part from a couple of group shows in Berlin and Brooklyn already organised, one of the future projects will take place in a huge barn in Long Eddy, on the border between the State of New York and Pennsylvania.

Ian Colletti is constantly on the move: open shirt and rolled-up sleeves he pours champagne during the openings at Vaudeville Park. Moving gaze and smooth voice, he speaks with a relaxed yet unceasing rhythm, never losing sight of the gallery and, more importantly, listening closely. Vaudeville Park is his polymorphic creature. A storefront on the border between Williamsburg and Bushwick, with screenings, concerts and exhibitions with a vocation for total eclecticism for the last couple of years. A big, rickety baby grand piano characterises the space (it was already there and nobody thought of taking it away). Between the piano strings, screws and bolts talk about past or future musical performances, or just about a healthy sense of humour. A grant from New York Foundation for the Arts will help this small and ambitious organisation to keep pushing its hectic program of art, video and music, to keep flooding its fan base with invitations and to pass with nonchalance from classical music to contemporary art, from workshops to Yoga lessons in pure Vaudeville style.

To make thirteen individuals agree is not an easy task, but the group spirit is definitely Regina Rex’s key to success. A space created as an extension to different artists and friends private studios that became a landmark in the neighbourhood after the success, both of public and critic, of various exhibitions. Regina Rex is still managed with a very informal attitude, without a mission and not registered yet (neither as a non-profit nor as a commercial gallery). The exhibitions are proposed, organised and promoted by the same members, who act as talent scouts in their own community, sharing their network and resources. All the activities, financial details and future projects are discussed with a praiseworthy clean approach and transparency. The exhibition space is a large white cube adjacent to the studios of two of the founders. Although slightly hidden and relatively not easy to reach, the quality of its program doesn’t go unnoticed, and as hoped, this gave Regina Rex’s team the possibility to put high quality projects and names on the calendar (recently, a group show curated by Heather Hubbs, NADA’s director) and to plan their future with ambition.

“Clearing is a beautiful baby” is, I suppose, a good answer from the spokesman of this group of artists and curators to my question on how things are going in the bright space on 505 Johnson Avenue, opened a few months ago on the second floor of a building without a bell and already on everybody’s mouth. Without a mission or a structure, Clearing is characterised by a program announced by brief texts – for now, at least – with short and effective double solo shows, and seems to enjoy its “best kept secret” status. The raw material of the project is compared to the collagen that keeps together octopuses and squids, something organic, flexible and adaptable. Rendered strong by a network of international connections and its participants, Clearing looks beyond the four walls and the column of its own space. After a good offsite project at the French Embassy in New York, they promoted a transfer at the Venice Biennale, in the Emily Harvey Foundation’s exhibition space with a double solo show by Harold Ancart and Esther Klas.

A semi-hidden basement, with tiles and concrete-framed glass panels that would make any interior designer shiver but that fits perfectly here, Famous Accountants is the quintessence of the artist-run space. Full of history (it used to host Genesis P. Orridge’s archives, founding member of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and COUM transmissions – now a Tate property), Famous Accountants is a project by Ellen Lecher and Kevin Regan, artists with a “sex, drug and rock’n’roll” aesthetic as they admit. Given the position of the gallery, located in a relaxed block of Ridgewood, Queens, a few steps from the borders of Bushwick, even here we hear the term “Greater Bushwick”, a scene that goes beyond the neighbourhood geography, pasted together by the relationships between artists, curators and residents. As I write, Regan and Lecher are probably still toasting to their first New York Times review: Matthew Miller’s solo Show. For some time now the ambitious installations and the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude of this space have imposed upon the general attention. In spite of this, the Famous Accountants sign is still almost invisible. Ellen and Kevin, seated on plastic chairs, cigarette and coffee in hands, are more than enough to point out what’s happening a few steps underground.


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