Archive for March, 2016
Artist Antonia Pérez creates sculptures by weaving discarded plastic bags. She worked at the gallery during the exhibition.
This is the final weekend for the exhibition “Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator” at Cuchifritos Gallery located in the Essex Street Market. The exhibition curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful has been in the works for the past two years. The premise of the exhibition is for “six socially conscious artists to engage vendors, customers and the Market itself in their artistic processes as a means of co-generating experiences centered on the life that unfolds outside Cuchifritos Gallery, the art space of the Artist Alliance Inc”.
So in preparation for the exhibition, the artists came together with Jodi Waynberg the Executive Director of Artist Alliance as well as Nicolas to begin considering how the artists might work with the market. Jodi toured the artists through the market and introduced them to various vendors as well as the building manager and staff. Nearly all the artists attended a Vendors Association Meeting to present their projects and solicit collaboration.
As one may imagine, the vendors are small business owners and workers. The market is the place that they go to for employment, not necessarily for cultural engagement. Many of the vendors are entirely preoccupied with maintaining their business and were no nonsense about artistic participation. If the artists did not approach with a brief and concrete plan for collaboration, there was little chance of any cooperation. A few vendors were excited at the prospect of creative engagement and happily collaborated. However in general, the ambitious projects envisioned by the artists needed to be simplified.
Laia Solé and Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful employ the color green from the market to create a video montage that collapses the artists at work and the market at work.
For example, I wanted to create an audio montage of the vendors chanting or singing their goods and then to have that audio amplified onto the street via a bullhorn installed on the facade of the Essex Street Market. The concept was to have the interior of the market spill out onto the street as street markets commonly do in Latin America and Europe. Most of the vendors were not comfortable in singing their goods and the building management did not allow the installation of the bullhorn due to city ordinances regarding noise pollution (at least that was their excuse). When I was recording one of the vendors, a shopper approached me to tell me about recipes that she uses for a particular root. It then occurred to me that if vendors did not want to sing, perhaps they would share a recipe and the audio montage became primarily recordings of market recipes. As the piece would not be projected onto the street via a loudspeaker, I created a sandwich board with a speaker installed into it and wore the sandwich board on the street. In this way, the original concept of the piece was fully realized.
Each artist has her or his own story of how the work needed to be modified for the final exhibition. And in the end, this is the nature of collaboration.
Stalin/Putin, Smith/Mugabe, Somoza/Ortega, Hirohito/Kim Il-sung, Idris/Gaddafi, Batista/Castro, GOP/Dems are ongoing portrait pairings of autocratic leaders that reflect a corruption of power. These illustrations have been created with the intention of animating a transformation from one face to the other as video loops. “Stalin to Putin” is the second animation of the series. “Somoza to Ortega” was completed quickly following the Sandinista’s last constitutional amendment that got rid of term limits, facilitating Ortega’s permanency as Nicaraguan president. I created the illustrations and my assistant Thomas Medina is the animator behind “Stalin to Putin”.
On an outing to Fort Greene Park yesterday afternoon, I met Alevo Zkaynak at the entrance of the park. She was holding a home made banner declaring “BERNIE DRAWS THE LINE – LINE DRAWINGS!!!”. From the banner hung 5 terrific line drawings created by the artist to generate donations for Bernie. She told me that she was out of money to give to Bernie, so she made the drawings to sell; she’d send half the proceeds to the Bernie campaign.
It is this sort of youthful and earnest enthusiasm that makes me wish that Bernie Sanders Political Revolution did occur. Unfortunately as with Obama’s HOPE, the United States is far too divided for any revolution to occur whether it’s a revolution of bigotry and hate or one of openness and love. As with much of Obama’s tenure, the Republicans are blocking the President’s right to select a new Supreme Court judge. When our representatives are unwilling to do their job, it is amazing that any legislation gets done in this country. Change must occur, perhaps it will happen through today’s youth, people like Alevo Zkaynak.
The Recetas y Gangas: Essex Street Market Recordings presents the compilation of recordings made at the market over several weeks between the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016.
The full collection of recordings are available here.
As Juana Figueroa of Luna Brothers market within the Essex Street Market broke down boxes to contribute to an installation within the Cuchifritos gallery, I spoke with her about that afternoon’s lunch. Listen to her describe it below, yams quick, simple and delicious:
Listen to the full collection of recordings.