Content Introduction: Emma Lewis _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Exhibitions 2007- 2017 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
2007- 2009 (255 17th Street) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Looking Back: Lily White _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Associated _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Associated: Joann Jovinelly _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
2010- 2015 (306 17th Street) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
In Conversation: Savas Boyraz with Hito Steyerl
A Tiny Space Full of Boundless Ideas: Donny Levit _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
How the Stars Stand: Sara Morawetz _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
A Year of Collectives _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
A Year of Collectives: Andrew Demirjian, Samara Smith and Ariana Souzis _ _ _
2017 (306 17th Street) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
How To Build A Fire _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
In Conversation: Terence Degnan and Dennis Norris II _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
cHURCH OF MONIKA _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Looking Back: Stacie Evans _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Dark Salon: Erin Gleason
_ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Soup Kitchen _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Looking Back: Teresa Santamaria _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Koko NYC _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Letter: Gabriel Thompson _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Opening of Open Source Gallery 2007 at 255 17th Street. Children ages 2-7 were in charge of the art and the snacks.
INTRODUCTION Emma Lewis, Board of Directors President
Monika Wuhrer founded Open Source Gallery in 2007 with Gary Baldwin. The
nonprofit art organization is infused with Monika’s boundless energy, creative vision, propulsive imagination, and exuberant and undaunted desire to connect -- to connect people through art, diverse cultures through human engagement, and communities to each other and internally through dialogue and communal experience. Monika’s approach to the exhibits and projects that Open Source produces (and the attitude that also drives Koko NYC, the children’s program arm of the organization), is never “that will never work,” but rather “here’s how we can make this happen.”
Open Source models an artistic and social engagement that keeps gallery-goers
and participants on their toes, pushes us to think and to interact with the art, artist, and community, and encourages us to see, hear, and contemplate the beauty, complexity, and contradiction that surround us. For ten years, Open Source has urged us to witness and to engage in the local and the global using art as the lens, opening our eyes to contemporary life in the Middle East via the documentary photographs of the all-female collective Rawiya; uncovering the forgotten and fantastical flora, fauna and human history of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal through the collages of Francesco Simeti’s mesmerizing motorized installation; and channeling the ebullient intensity of the Notorious B.I.G. through the public murals created by the Spanish group Boa Mistura, whose spirited messages of hope show up in unlikely places and transform the moods of passers-by.
Open Source’s small but welcoming space, in an old carriage house in South
Slope, Brooklyn, aims to make contemporary, conceptually-driven art approachable, and the venue has welcomed hundreds of video artists, sculptors, performers, photographers, textual artists, painters and curators from New York and around the world. But the gallery’s project is not contained within its walls or restricted by its viewing hours: conversations continue through its monthly discussion series cHURCH OF MONIKA, its storytelling series How to Build a Fire, December’s month-long “soup kitchen” of
communal, public dinners prepared by volunteer chefs, and public events, panel discussions, and installations throughout the year.
Open Source often calls on us to grapple with difficult subjects, but it is never
heavy-handed; weâ€™re persuaded to enjoy, to laugh, to be amazed, to talk. The gallery has invited us into a handmade tent stitched together of recycled fabrics to have our tarot cards interpreted by an artist in the context of climate change; it has asked us to meditate on the universal experience of death by visiting a space of visual and aural loveliness and peace; and it has required us to think about the harrowing realities of walls, immigration restrictions, religious bans, prejudice, and the unjust distribution of privilege, through documents, interviews, film and participatory art-making brought to us by artists based in El Salvador, Mexico, and Pakistan, among other places. We are immeasurably enriched by Monika and Open Sourceâ€™s embrace of art and artists as critical to our navigating and engaging in the world, to their continual exploration of how artists interpret the world and share it with us, and to Open Sourceâ€™s commitment to bringing us all in on the conversation.
Leigh Davis,The Burrow (H.H.), 2012, installation view The Burrow (H.H.) repurposed the gallery as a transitional living space in which the everyday artifacts of human existence took on a different meaning when encountered in a place not designed for habitation.
EXHIBITIONS 255 17th Street, 2007-2010 257 17th Street, 2011 (Associated)
above: Katerina Marcelja, Slimesilvered, 2008, installation view (photo by Gary Baldwin) opposite page: Jacob Ouillette, Painted Space, 2008, installation view (photo by Gary Baldwin)
Severin Hagen, Sunset, 2009, installation view (part of residency program) (photo by Gary Baldwin)
Looking Back Lily White I think it was around 2008 when I began to understand what Open Source was about. I had accompanied Monika Wuhrer to Manhattan on a Thursday evening because she asked me to and because she was always a lot of fun to be around. On 22nd Street, she pulled the truck over and I helped her unload a portable foosball table she had made. If you don’t know, Thursdays are opening nights in Chelsea, and that night, every gallery was lit up and packed with well-heeled art lovers. There on the sidewalk, in front of a tiny Chelsea gallery, we attached the legs and set the heavy thing upright as curious New Yorkers looked on and sipped wine from plastic cups. I wondered what kind of statement she wanted to make. Was this a condemnation of the commodification of art? Or, simply, a disruption of the status quo? She told me that she enjoyed engaging people and seeing their reactions to this unexpected social interaction. She wanted people to play. It is that sense of play that persists. Situated in the area of South Slope, Brooklyn, the gallery has undergone some unusual transformations over the last ten years. Among other things, it has become an artist’s bedroom (on Mars time), a waiting room, a battleground for monsters, a dance floor, a carpentry shop, a Renaissance Italian theater, a motocross track, a prison, a concert hall, a laundromat, and once, even, a park--complete with grass and trees. Only 250 square feet in all, Open Source has brought the world to our tiny neighborhood, and as a result, our world has been richer for it. It’s definitely livelier. Open Source has always been a place to socialize.The annual December Soup Kitchen encourages people to create meals and share their art with their friends and with any hungry strangers that come in. The yearly Soap Box summer camp and derby provide a place for kids to create and build their own gravity-powered cars each summer.The cHURCH OF MONIKA features Sunday morning lectures and workshops about everything from ecology to the fourth dimension. How To Build a Fire allows people to share their stories with others.
Wuhrer has managed to create a sense of community while remaining true to her artistic vision. And this is no small task. By choosing a wide range of artists from around the globe she has challenged us with engaging and serious art over the last decade. At the same time, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and perhaps that is the secret of her success. Her love of art and of people has infused the place with a tangible spirit of camaraderie. It’s what makes us want to keep working together. It’s what makes the place feel like home. Cheers to Open Source Gallery. May the next ten years be as fun as the first!
Lily White and Monika Wuhrer, performance in preparation for Bread And Soccer: In the Arena of Art, 2008, Austrian Cultural Institute
Christian Brown, 2009, installation view and detail Review by Lilly Slezak, Art in America, 2009 “Christian Brown meticulously constructs intricate collages that teem with labyrinthine patterns. On view at this intimate gallery were five large, semiabstract compositions, displaying the healthy flexibility of his relatively compact vocabulary... Elements of architecture, geometry, mechanics, electricity and measurement are present in this group of collages, their precision contrasting with the slightly off-kilter layouts. While it is evident that Brown painstakingly cuts each piece and affixes it exactly where he wants it, what emerges are perplexing, irrational-seeming realms. Brown’s work bears striking similarities to Dada collage, but he has created a distinct visual language as captivating as it is cryptic.”
Urban Plant Research, installation and performance, 2012
James Leonard, Warbonds Certificates, (right) 2009, performance as part of the Fuse Works exhibition (bottom)
Ondrej Brody & Kristofer Paetau, Wang Bin Torture in Commercial Quality, High Quality and Museum Quality, 2007, installation view Brody & Paetau chose an extremely explicit photograph focusing on the massacred torso of a torture victim. Using the Chinese painting companyâ€™s own product quality grade system, Brody & Paetau commissioned the censured image to be painted in all three grades: Commercial Quality, High Quality and Museum Quality Akiyuki Ina, Emitting Evanescent Beauty, 2009, installation view
John Coburn, Fairlane Marauder, 2009, installation view
ORFI, LIVE GIG 2010, 2010, installation view
NOBUKO, Animal and More, 2009, exhibition and workshops for adults and children
Joseph Krings, All Aboard Future, 2009 All Aboard Future is a series of eight silent short films shot on black and white Super 8 film that reflect a variety of humorous viewpoints about the future of mankind. All characters are played by the filmmaker. The Brooklyn-based indie band Iâ€™m in You played a set using Hubert Doblerâ€™s 3 Prisoners as their stage.
top: Pirmin Hagen, First (detail), 2010, print and drawing bottom: Pirmin Hagen, First, 2010, installation view
Associated Joann Jovinelly
Associated is a site-specific group show housed in a fire-damaged brownstone
in Brooklyn that unites artists old and new to the Open Source Gallery, the nonprofit arts organization that was displaced by fire in 2010, as well as its owners, artists Monika Wuhrer and Gary Baldwin, who had lived in the dwelling. Besides being the galleryâ€™s first group show, the name is a reference to the corner market that housed the boiler that exploded and caused the fire, as well as the close relationships the exhibiting artists have shared with the gallery. Wuhrer, Raphaela Riepl, and Frank de Leon-Jones curated the exhibit of more than 30 artists.
The idea of showing art in a derelict or industrial building is not new; in fact, art
exhibits set in unusual or typically forbidden spaces is gaining traction, especially in the current economic climate. The nonprofit arts organization Creative Time has been organizing such exhibits since the 1970s, most recently taking over the abandoned Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan for David Byrneâ€™s Playing the Building (2008), and Mike Nelsonâ€™s A Psychic Vacuum (2007), which was installed in the old Essex Market on the Lower East Side.
Artists themselves have historically taken over abandoned spaces to show their
work, such as the 1980s group Colab. Its now infamous trio of installations: The Manifesto Show (1979), The Real Estate Show (1980) and The Times Square Show (1980) helped launch the careers of Kiki Smith, John Ahearn, Jane Dickson, and Jenny Holzer.
Although the aforementioned installations were impacted by the abandoned or
derelict buildings that housed them, none have before taken place in so intimate a setting as a vacated building that was literally occupied by many of the artists involved. Those visceral relationships add another element to the cohesiveness to the show, as much of the work was made directly inside the space, made as a result of the space, or made from the remains of the space.
First, there are those pieces that are linked directly to the damaged building,
such as the large-scale installation by Primin Hagen that was taken from his solo show, ( Continued on Page 24)
Associated photos by Miho Suzuki top: Gary Baldwin, Emanuel, 2010 previous page: Amanda C. Mathis, Displacement (257 17th St), 2011, paneling, plaster lathe, drywall, paint, wallpaper, linoleum flooring right: Evan Robarts, A New Hope, 2011, 4â€™x8â€™, found object mounted on wall
Top (from left to right): Johanna Unzueta, Red Pipe, 2011, various dimensions, felt and thread Brad Engstrom, Grandma Biba’s Kitchen, 2011, 48”x72”, lamp black and wood Felipe Mujica, Untitled, 2010, 6’x9’, polyester fabric and thread Patrick May, The 3 Little Pigs, 2011, mixed media installation and video projection James Leonard, snap!, 2004, 00:10:13 duration, video
From left to right: Annelise E. Ream, Ways of Fur, 2011, dimensions variable, mixed media Réamonn Byrne, A Symbiotic Breakdown, 2011, artist’s shoes, shoelace, vinyl Jason Reppert, Meeting God, 2011, mixed materials Miho Suzuki, Child with a Storage Basket, 2011, 4”x6”, pigment ink print on rag paper, sumi ink painted frame
First, which was on exhibit during the fire. The fabric structure, which appears as a rudimentary shelter, is recreated exactly as it had been in 2010, revealing itself both a burned relic and a symbol of survival. Performance artist Sara Bouchard will also draw on her reflections of the fire by combining songwriting, recorded media, and live performance.
The sculptures and paintings of Reamonn Byrne, whose studio was inside the
building at the time of the incident and whose work was also damaged, demonstrate a sharpness and clarity of hope in bold colors and shapes, suggesting a future of curious play where multiple possibilities are constantly unfolding.
The provocative work of Amanda C. Mathis, which concerns itself with the very
nature of the ravaged building, further exposes its fragility. By forcibly breaking down its construction, Mathis physically exposes the structure’s intimate past by revealing old layers of wallpaper, hidden recesses and more, while calling into question the stability and potential vulnerability of the structure and its inhabitants. At the same time, the organic, evocative sculptural forms of Katerina Marcelja suggest a certain sense of permanence.
Photographs by Alex Darsey, Miho Suzuki, and Fumie Ishii, which were taken
inside the building and in the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhood, relate directly to time spent there with friends, acting like a visual time line that threads itself throughout the exhibit. Many are situated in places inside the structure where they were taken, further illustrating in exact ways how the lives of those affected by the tragedy were once connected to the building and its environs. Even the kinetic drawing by ten-year-old Maya Engstrom is directly related to time she spent playing in the home.
Other works, such as the clever small-scale installations of Peter Feigenbaum’s
Trainset Ghetto and Letizia Werth’s moody drawings of black trash bags, call to mind how the now vacated building fits within the scheme of the neighborhood and how the fire transformed the personal effects of its inhabitants to little more than refuse. Sculptors Evan Roberts and Raphaela Riepl make use of the existing building materials present on site and incorporating it directly into their sculpture. Reipl’s work references the semi-deconstructed state of the house, mirroring the precarious balance between staying erect and total collapse. The work plays with this notion through its subtle sensitivity in touching a border, but not crossing it. Evan Roberts’ A New Hope toys with the ideas of ( Continued on Page 29)
Ethan Crenson, Staircase wrapped in aluminum foil, 2011, installation view
the history of the home, its inhabitants and the doors that open to the future. Sculptural works by Jason Reppert and Hubert Dobler ruminate on narratives that examine vice as opposed to virtue.
Moving images situated in unexpected places throughout the building, such as
James Leonard’s snap!, that examines in slow motion the force and power of small-scale firecrackers, call to mind the theme of destruction, while others, like the videos shower (fall) and bucket brigade by artist Stefanie Koseff, promote a sense of healing as they bring images of water to a site visibly damaged by fire. Works by Anja Conrad, Christian Brown, Felipe Mujica, Ethan Crenson, Johanna Unzueta, Glen Einbinder and Brad Engstrom also suggest renewal, both in appearance and action. That suggestion is echoed in works by Kathleen Vance, whose Traveling Landscapes - literally tiny organic environments that are encapsulated in a series of suitcases and trunks - takes over one of the building’s closet spaces.
A video projection and found art piece by Patrick May that has as its central
theme the subject of a dark children’s tale is humanizing, especially when viewed in the former children’s room. Under May’s careful tutelage, The Three Little Pigs becomes equal fodder for inspiration and despair. A similar juxtaposition of combating feelings can be felt from Phoenix (you need ashes to start), an audio meditation on water and fire by Manuel Sander and set to the video Where the Sky Meets the Sea by Sander, Matthew Orr, and Jasper Wingo.
Artists themselves examine their own process in a mirror that reflects the transi-
tional nature of the building itself, such as Allison Read Smith’s invisible sculptures and Annelise E. Ream, whose series of sketches, collages, and completed drawings are derived from an ongoing project called The Ways of Fur.
Associated’s greatest strengths are its simultaneous capture of what is frag-
ile about our physical environment as well as its ability to be an instrument of hope, change, and rebirth.
left to right: Hubert Dobler, Double Heart, 2011, dimensions variable, mixed media Raphaela Riepl, Rigged Screwed Up, 2011, 100”x10”x40”, wood, screws, plastic hand, yoyo, paint, pencil Kathleen Vance, Traveling Landscapes, various dimensions, leather cases, dirt, water, light, plants Sara Bouchard, Songline I, 2010, 180”x40”, paper wrinkle, graphite, ink and conté on paper with wood
EXHIBITIONS 306 17th Street, 2011-2015
top: Nick Kline, Gilgo Beach, 2012, installation view right: Patrick Cadenhead, Spring and Renewal, 2012, installation view
Andrea Ray, Utopians Dance, 2013, installation view
Anne Phelan’s one-act play, Olmsted in Autumn, based on the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted (directed by Tamara Fisch within the exhibitionWe Know Not Exactly Where or How, curated by Elizabeth Spavento) We Know Not Exactly Where or How was a community-based art initiative inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted, the forefather of American landscape architecture, and participatory artistic practice. Its goal was to present the park as a site for serving the public and private needs of the people. Using Olmsted’s philosophy—a strong belief in the unconscious effects of nature on the whole human—as a starting point, this exhibition converted Open Source Gallery into a living public park and its exterior into an outdoor stage for all kinds of events.
left and top: Katarina Poliacikova, Until We Remember The Same, 2013, installation view From May 2012 until May 2013 Katarina Poliacikova worked on a collaborative project with her sister, which consisted of a very simple activity: taking a picture of the sun. The sisters would take the picture at the same minute, wherever they were, for a period of one year. The sisters had not grown up together and only learned of each otherâ€™s existence three years before the project began. Shortly after they met for the first time, Poliacikova realized that their relationship, however close, was yet to be built. The sisters do not share a past, they have no common memories and no family photographs, but share a very strange feeling of closeness and remoteness. The act of taking pictures as an everyday ritual was an attempt to move on from something that cannot be retrieved from the past, a means of building their archive of â€œsharedâ€? moments, like catching grains of sand, being so close and so distant at the same time. following pages: Arne Schreiber, Your Stripes, 2014, installation view
Anja Matthes, Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out, 2014, installation view Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out examined gender, identity and sexuality through a collaboration between documentary photographer and filmmaker Anja Matthes and June, a transgender homeless teenager. Matthes collaborated with June on photographs that would capture Juneâ€™s quest for self-identity and acceptance. In the shelter, June was unable to put anything on the walls, but at Open Source, she found a place to express herself.
Kathleen Vance, From the Woods, 2012, installation view
James Leonard, 927 Days at Sea, 2011, installation view
Corina Reynolds, Northwestern Expansion, 2014, installation view
Mark Stilwell, The Super Defense Force vs The Tittanno Beast (The Power of the Constructonauts), 2014, installation and performance
Margrethe Aanestad, Between Mountain, 2012, blue tape Between Mountain was a collaborative art project and workshop by Norwegian artists Margrethe Aanestad, Else Leirvik, and Ole Martin Lund BĂ¸, dancer Lene Aareskjold and musician Hai Nguyen Dinh (Next Life), curated by Marte JĂ¸lbo, Nick Kline, Monika Wuhrer. In March 2012 the artists created a dynamic body of work, both as individuals, as a group and with strangers, based on the overarching theme of personal/public space, particularly as it relates to cultural differences. Seven private residences in Manhattan and Brooklyn hosted events, some public and some private, including artworks and performances.
Hubert Dobler, Roundabout, 2014, installation view
B. David Walsh, Extracted Bedroom Project, 2015, installation view opposite page: Cristian Bors & Marius Ritiu, Venus von Hamburg, 2015, installation view
Miho Suzuki, Our Children Today, 2013, installation view
Jasmine Murrell, Some Impossibility Without A Name, 2015 (photo by Taylor Neal)
In Conversation: Savas Boyraz with Hito Steyerl Originally published in New York Arts Magazine, 2015
German Artist, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl spoke with Savas Boyraz about his recent work Back Drop at Open Source Gallery. Steyerl’s teenage friend Andrea Wolf, who became a martyr of the Kurdish liberation movement when killed in Çatak, Turkey in 1998, serves as a driving force in her recent work. Steyerl’s visits to Kurdistan and to the site of Andrea Wolf ’s murder have brought Steyerl in contact with the current humanitarian crisis in Kurdish regions and also closer to Savas Boyraz. Savas Boyraz is a Kurdish artist, who views his work as “image-based activism” that he uses to explore the struggle of the Kurdish community in the Middle East, as well as his own roots. While travelling through Syria and Iraq, they had the following conversation: Hito Steyerl: How did the idea arise to make this work? Savas Boyraz: As a Kurdish artist, I always wanted to make a work with the Kurdish guerrilla fighters. This was not very easy, considering the conditions. However, back in March 2013, as a part of peace talks between Turkish state and the PKK, their leader announced a ceasefire towards Turkish state and summoned the PKK fighters to withdraw outside Turkish borders towards their bases in the North of Iraq. And in the same announcement, he was pointing a direction for the peace talks; “if the peace process advances as desired, this will bring an end to the armed struggle.” When I read this, I decided to hurry up and make a work with the guerrillas before they transform into something else. Initially, it was a portrait photography project. But then, it evolved into an experimental fiction film through which the uncertainty of the political climate of the peace process is revealed. Basically, the peace process, which no longer exists, triggered the idea of making a series of works about the Kurdish guerrilla movement. Hito Steyerl: But how and under which conditions was the film Meanwhile made? Savas Boyraz: Initially, the conditions were relatively better. There were no ongoing clashes between Turkish military and the guerrillas. There was tension, and uncertainty, and of course a certain level of risk. For example, during the filming of Meanwhile there were several military drones hovering above us; US, Israeli, Iranian and Turkish drones. This has prevented us from moving freely. Hito Steyerl: And what about the Triptych? Savas Boyraz: The third part of the work, the Triptych occurred in a more relaxed fashion
Savas Boyraz, Tryptich, 2015, three channel video (photo by Savas Boyraz)
throughout 2013, 2014 and 2015. I decided to link the guerrilla movie Meanwhile to the city life, to our daily lives. It was then when I decided to make a video portrait of an exÂguerrilla in New York. Hito Steyerl: And how does your recent work relate to your earlier work around Roboski? Savas Boyraz: Thematically both Invisible Landscapes and the recent works about the guerrillas can easily be linked to each other. Invisible Landscapes is about the borders that divide the Kurdish land into 4 pieces. It brings a historical perspective to a contemporary situation. The recent works around the guerrillas brings a more contemporary perspective to the situation. At the turmoil of the recent political developments in the Middle East, where the borders of the nation states are falling apart, I wanted to lift the curtain and look behind it, to reveal the ones who are actually driving these changes on the ground. One more thing to say; during the photography process of
the border work, I also wanted to photograph the guerrillas, as they control most territories along these borders. But it was not possible back then. This way, at least the guerrilla portraits can be seen as part of the Invisible Landscapes photo work. On the other hand, on a formal level, both works started as photo projects and evolved into video works with several layers. I intentionally try to bring still photography and moving image into each other, and try to find ways of intertwining them. As a visual artist educated to be a still photographer, I do not believe in still photography and always try to push it forward into a somewhat hybrid form that employs moving image and sound in it. This effort is visible in both works. However there is certainly more of moving image than photography in the later works. Hito Steyerl: How are the protagonists of your new work doing now? Savas Boyraz: I know one of them, Evin, is still studying for her MA on political science in Europe. We are working on a new piece with her. But I donâ€™t know about Simko (third part of the Triptych) and the actors/guerrillas in Meanwhile. Simko went to Iraq to join the fights against the IS back in February 2015. Since then, I havenâ€™t heard from him. Also the whole cast of Meanwhile is out of reach and the areas where we filmed the work, Kandil territory in North of Iraq, is under constant airstrikes by the Turkish army since July 2015. I hope the situation gets better soon and I can go and show the finished work to them. Hito Steyerl: There is one more question I am really interested in. Where did you find the backdrop, what was it used for? Savas Boyraz: The story of the backdrop is interesting. During our first trip to the guerrilla camps, we were hosted by their culture group, where they have theater actors, musicians and filmmakers. When I started taking the portrait photos, I decided to use a backdrop but I was not prepared, I did not have one with me. So I asked them if there was a piece of cloth that I can use. They told me that the theater group might have something useful at their previous camp site, which was a couple of hours away. We went there and found a big metal barrel buried in the ground to stash some of their theater props and accessories. This particular backdrop was used on stage for some of their performances. I still have it and eventually will give it back to them.
Savas Boyraz, Back Drop, 2015, installation view (photos by Savas Boyraz)
SeoKyeong Lee Yoon, Used Toys for Sale (presented as part of the exhibition series Rummage curated by Whitney Lynn), 2015, installation view (photos by Serry Park)
A Tiny Space Full of Boundless Ideas Donny Levit A nimble, raw space on 17th Street in Brooklyn’s South Slope has served as a tabula rasa for a decade’s worth of diverse and challenging exhibitions. And yet the walls at Open Source Gallery seem permeable, because their offerings have consistently related to the streets and people of the neighborhood. While each artist who graces their space is unique, each installation feels boundless. Of course, this is no easy feat. In the fall of 2015, Back Drop, a video installation and photography exhibit by filmmaker Savas Boyraz, captured the visual and soundscape of guerilla fighters in Kurdistan. The Kandil region of Northern Iraq is certainly worlds away from 17th Street, however Boyraz offered us relatable stories about people living in this complex geo-political region. The artist was able to find a relationship between Kurdistan and the neighboring streets of the gallery. “Brooklyn is filled with people of different backgrounds giving to each other,” he said. “I am trying to open up a window about the uncertainty of our time.” Open Source Gallery has altered the walls and streets of Brooklyn, while reminding the borough of its rich artistic history. In 2016, the Madrid-based Boa Mistura, an internationally-acclaimed assemblage of graffiti artists, came to South Slope to embark on a bold project hosted by Open Source Gallery titled Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way. A series of walls were transformed into murals with quotes by Brooklyn native, The Notorious B.I.G. While Boa Mistura may not be a local collective, they recognize the iconic presence of this local hip hop artist. “For graffiti fans, Biggie Smalls is an idol,” said Javier Serrano of Boa Mistura. “We chose him. He is Brooklyn.” “When we leave, it’s not our project anymore,” said collective member Juan Jaume. “It’s our present we make for the city. And the volunteers feel proud of what they make. We hope the neighbors feel proud of it, too.” Open Source consistently invites projects which manage to be both lasting and intangible. Years ago, Development Director Shauna Sorensen eloquently summed up the priorities of the gallery. “We realize that art is not only important within communities, but that community is also critical to art making,” she said. “And we want to explore how art can not only generate communities, but how it can also be a catalyst for social and political change.” Founder and Artistic Director Monika Wuhrer understands that indelible artistic work is able to function as a global, regional, and hyperlocal event. Her acute curatorial eye is responsible for the first of many boundless chapters in the life of Open Source Gallery. And each chapter will surely offer more gifts to this borough and this city.
Tirtzah Bassel, I Want to Hold You Close, 2015, installation view
HOW THE STARS STAND Sara Morawetz
Sara Morawetz, How the Stars Stand, 2015, installation view (photo by Sara Morawetz)
Living in a gallery for 37-Earth-days (36-Martian-Sols) is an experience that will change you. You will never think of time in quite the same way again. Nor will you ever quite separate that soft glow of a summerâ€™s night in Brooklyn from the experience of waking up on Mars. These two things will be forever linked - by sight, by smell, by muscle memory. You will consider the hands of a clock untrustworthy. Your (rewired) brain will think of time in more malleable terms. It will expand and contract, at variable rates, by machinations unseen.
It will appear and disappear - it will meander. You will see time as a limitless continuum, an untethered apparatus. An ether which you pass through. You will find time far less calculable than it once appeared, and never again quite as stable. The diary entries below were written on Mars time. They, like the summer night sky, return you to How the Stars Stand in a instant - back into that suspended space – once again drifting between worlds. ________ STARTING SOMETHING: July 29, 2015 You start something not knowing what it will be. You have a sense that it is something but you can’t be sure. way to know is to do it and that is terrifying.
You try to have no expectations but that is impossible. You want so desperately for it to work and even more desperately not to fail. You want to it to be perfect – to record the experience honestly (yet beautifully) - you live in constant fear of fucking it up. You hope the data that you have is enough - that there wasn’t another way – a better way it could have been collected because it is already too late now – you have created a system and you are stuck with it. You want it to be more than just about failure - but everywhere you look it’s the first thing you see. You are somewhere between the past and the future but not quite in the present – always a beat behind – a fraction off - hoping you will eventually catch up with yourself. You are 3pm and // like but you – which thinner again.
tired. You ache. You wish to god you could sleep but its only you have another eight hours. Its hot – stifling hot – like day night // like purgatory. It would be all better if you slept are already sleeping eight hours a night ( well, maybe six is not less than you normally would) – yet those hours feel – watered down and waking in the twilight only makes you tired
It’s nearly 1am (on Earth) and you maybe have two more productive hours before the walls come crashing down...
And while it this really isn’t news to anyone you come to realise you could never be an astronaut. Aside from the scientific skill – the mental acuity – physical dexterity and general composure you simply don’t function without sleep and coffee and light, and plants...
IN-BETWEEN:August 10, 2015 It’s day. It’s night. It’s something in-between. Does time even matter anymore? You move forward. You move back. You are propelled by measures you are no longer marking. Your hope turns on a dime, it quivers and dissipates. You are once again restless, anxious, uncomfortable. And as energy morphs into listlessness and your emotions ricochet, the inexorable march of the clock ticks on and on and on and on regardless. You want this to be over now. You are tired of waking in darkness and sleeping through light. You are tired of documenting and being documented. ‘You I measure, as I measure time’1 becomes an indictment on your character. You no longer measure up - time has got the better of you.
You don’t know what things look like - nor what they mean. Just what exactly are you? A human clock? An occupier of time? You check your watch incessantly but still never seem to quite know what the time is. Is that success or failure? ‘What is this now, the now as I look at my watch?’2
1 Reference to St Augustine’s Confessions
2 Reference to Heidegger’s The Concept of Time
You genuinely consider giving up. You’re tired and kind of over it. You’re not sure this crazy thing is worth it. A technical failure mars everything. The isolation gets to you. As does the constant accounting for time. Time often passes and nothing happens, yet now every second past is a second wasted // one second longer than the other, and that one cuts the deepest. An hour passes. Two. Time no longer counted by a clock or by light, but instead by a series of transitions. Another routine based upon action. The system isn’t gone, it’s just replaced by another. Time drifts past dreamlessly and you feel suspended. You understand that the end is closer now but not close enough to count on yet.
CONFESSION: August 19, 2015 I officially acknowledge that I’m adrift at sea. If I was supposed to do something / say something / be somewhere in the past two months and haven’t - please know that it was not intentional... I have been in another time - another place - somewhere in between Earth and Mars // awake and asleep... transitioning through thoughts - ideas - feelings in a real time that is entirely of my own creation. I have no idea what it means or what I will make of it, but it is nearly done now... and that’s all I have right now.
David Dâ€™Ostilio, The Chopping Block, 2013, installation view
Ethan Crenson, Trojan Purse, 2016, moveable public sculpture and performance presented during the Art Slope Arts Festival (photo by Shauna Sorensen) next page: Yun-Woo Choi, Endless, Seamless, 2015, installation view (photo by Taylor Neal)
A YEAR OF COLLECTIVES Andrew Demirjian (videokaffe) Samara Smith (/rive) Ariana Souzis (/rive)
In 2016, Open Source Gallery curators Shauna Sorensen and Monika Wuhrer decided to devote an entire year to collectives. Each month, except December, the gallery was turned over to a different artist or curatorial collective. By the end of the year, 11 collectives had featured their work at Open Source, presenting either a larger-scale exhibit created together or a series of individual artworks made by members of the collectives who shared a similar aesthetic sensibility or outlook. As Open Source’s website explained:
“Since 2008, Open Source has been dedicated to exploring the social change that can be enacted through communities formed around art. In 2016, we aim to further our mission by exhibiting artist collectives and artist-run spaces to engage the neighborhood in discussions about culture, collaboration and social issues.”
This curatorial approach honors the tradition of artist collectives, in which a group of artists voluntarily work together, often for political, economic or professional reasons, a history that began back in ancient Greece and Italy, continued during the Russian and French revolutions and endures today in contemporary iterations like the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Go! Push Pops and the Propeller Group. Open Source’s programming embraces the history of this practice while exploring the larger question of how artists can function as a self-governing community, especially in the face of a political, economic and social environment that heavily favors individualism and promotes the myth that the lone artist/genius is the ideal. As Shauna notes:
“We’ve always been interested in both community and process. In every project at Open Source, we have been interested in not only how we collaborate with artists to present their work, but the ways in which artists collaborate with our community. 2016 was designed to explore how artist communities work and how they work together. We wanted to learn about the different ways that artists can collaborate, broaden our idea of how we typically think collectives work and show that to the public.”
In this spirit, this chapter has been collectively written, using ideas, themes and observations parsed from a number of the collectives and then collectively edited by three of the participating artists. These concepts emerged from questions posed to the collectives that centered around their missions, process and creative practice, inviting them to contribute both answers and questions to the collaborative conversation. The 11 collectives that exhibited at Open Source in 2016 include: /rive (Brooklyn, NY), Prosjektrom Normanns (Norway), videokaffe (international), Healing Arts Initiative (Queens, NY), Rawiya (Middle East), guerilla-art.mx (Mexico), SiTE:LAB (Grand Rapids, MI), Boa Mistura (Spain), Dimensions Variable (Miami, FL), i Collective (international) and Another Space (Denmark). Looking back at the year of collectives as a whole, it became evident that many of the collectives were working around similar ideas and processes. As members of the collectives reflected back on their work and experiences, several key themes emerged. Nearly all the collectives directed their work around place and community, either through site-specific exhibition or through community engagement, or both. Additionally, several highlighted how the collective process supports the individual, noting that collective practice can be a form of self-care and self-nourishment. Finally, many pointed to the way that making work collectively can be fun, and allow for experimentation and open play. The rest of this chapter will explore these themes in more depth.
PLACE AND COMMUNITY Many of the participating collectives discussed the important role of place and public space in their creative process. Starting with a careful exploration of site, these artists research and observe the physical location and social dynamics of the space. When working like this, the creation phase and the final exhibited work are both deeply informed by, and linked to, the physical and social environment. In a sense, the collaboration extends beyond the artist collective to a collaboration with physical space and the communities occupying these spaces. For example, when beginning a project, the Spanish collective Boa Mistura moves “to the place for some weeks and absorb the local culture and traditions.” In this research phase, they try to remain open, “leaving space to the inspiration given by [the] local population and the place where the work is going to be executed.” Similarly, Brooklyn-based /rive starts each project by collectively exploring and researching the places and community. Their collective process is “based on our shared interest in cities, gentrification and work, walks and play” and their research typically begins with long exploratory walks. i Collective, whose members are based internationally, also reports starting their “collaborative creative process” with place-based
research, asking questions such as, “Who lives there? What kind of project would we like to do? What artistic references are connected to that space?” In much the same way, the work of videokaffe, another international collective, is significantly informed by their exhibition spaces. They “explore the area around the location and share an interest in discovering potential in common objects”, creating work that is informed by what they “discover in the local environment.” Meanwhile, curatorial collectives also prioritize space as a starting point for the creative process of their artists. Norway-based Prosjektrom Normanns encourages all exhibitors “to stay in Stavanger...in order to explore the space and make site-specific exhibitions” with the goal of deepening “the personal and social aspect of the work with the space.” The Danish group Another Space’s approach is “based on concerns for spatiality, materiality and craftsmanship.” One link connecting these disparate collectives is their initial methodology that privileges research and reflection over immediate action. Clearly, the Nike marketing slogan ‘Just Do It’, does not hold weight with these collectives. For them, the first action is non-action. For several of these collectives, this place-based collaboration extends to community collaboration. This community engagement can be understood as part of, or informed by, the growing field of social practice art. Social practice focuses on interaction and social engagement, often with the goal of making social change through participatory art. This shift from the physical object and a fixed exhibition experience to collaborative process, interactions and relationships was evident in the methods of many of the collectives. As Boa Mistura explains, researching a place requires collaboration with the community to “understand their perception of the place in which they live.” For collectives like Boa Mistura and /rive, this community collaboration extends into the creation phase. Boa Mistura involves community at all phases of their projects, “making them part of the research and creation phase of the idea. The execution phase is generally the most participatory. We teach people how to work with our tools: the brushes, the paint and the sprays, and we work hand by hand with them to carry out the work. We have discovered that this process helps them to create a more solid community and makes them really feel the authors of the work.” /rive shares a similar process, “We also choose to work collaboratively based on /rive’s philosophical ideas. We seek to engage the community in all of /rive’s projects, so our collective artmaking process mirrors our aesthetic goals. Much of our work is participatory and/ or interactive, so the collaboration goes beyond our collective.” i Collective points out that social practice extends beyond art, “Work is a social practice and so is the creative practice.” Much of this work contains social critique and many collectives point to the above discussed community collaboration as central to socially engaged art or creative practice. Boa Mistura shares:
“For us, the only way it makes sense to work in a community is collaborating with the local population. They are the ones who know best where they live and their needs… We prefer to share the creation with the people because it is much more enriching as a work process and generally leads to results with a great social impact. It also transcends the mere artistic aesthetic and takes on a much more important aspect.”
Often these community-based collaborations focus on expanding representation, highlighting “uncommon points of view” or amplifying “disenfranchised” voices. Collaboration allows for a multiplicity that is, by definition, absent in single artist creations. This process of working with others to make art may end up being reflected in the often diverse work produced. In addition to social critiques that may be explicit in their work, there is another critical element about their shared practices underneath the surface. In a culture that has been increasingly reduced to working and shopping, these collectives encourage an alternate public engagement through community participation in artmaking that stands outside of an unrelenting consumerist framework. For some, community collaboration goes beyond the making phase to define the “audience” exhibition experience. /rive reveals “We are collaborating with communities at the point of creation and in the way the pieces are experienced. This is a philosophical choice, to let go of some of the control, to think about creating systems or processes that then live in the participation or experience. It is about making something with a community or communities. Creating an active and shared experience.” Similarly, videokaffe’s collaboration is process oriented: “Part of the work is the social engagement with visitors about the piece and any subject that comes up, seemingly unrelated conversations that can find their way back into the work.” For these collectives, the exhibited work is often based on systems that transform the passive, gallery viewing experience into a dynamic process, inviting gallery visitors into the making process. However, these lofty socio-political goals also raise many complicated ethical and philosophical questions about representation and agency. Collectives reflect on the problematic aspect of these collaborations. Who is an expert? Who gains professional status in the exchange? Who is identified and celebrated as the author or creator? Who ultimately controls the representation? For example, /rive explains, “There is definitely a problematic element to community-focused art. We feel that there is always/often an uneven power dynamic when the artist(s) are making art with and for the community but the community is not always choosing or creating the art.” Many of the collectives discuss similar challenges and questions. Boa Mistura says, “One key question we’ve learned is that the street is not ours. Meaning, we are taking over a space that is public by definition. That implies a big responsibility to the neighbors, and
the challenge of avoiding imposition of our single point of view… We try to be really inclusive, creating open structures where everybody is invited to join in the process.” Similarly, the Queens, NY, collective Healing Arts Initiative works to create a process that takes into account the “obvious unequal power dynamics.” /rive also focuses on opening up the process as a way to address this dynamic: “We design the art to be participatory as much as possible, so that it only exists (and gets better) the more the members of the community help to create it.” As videokaffe says, “You have to be constantly vigilant when working with communities that you are not re-energizing colonial discourses in an art context. This is every sensitive artist’s nightmare who works with participatory art and community.” SELF AND EGO We may initially think of artist collectives as a space for political action based on popular groups like the Guerilla Girls, Critical Art Ensemble and Blast Theory. From calling out museums on their lack of equal representation of women to engaging in digital disobedience to creating interactive artworks that raise questions about the role of technology today, these groups speak truth to power. However, another aspect of working collaboratively may be how it promotes self-care for the individual artist as well. Several of the collectives who exhibited at Open Source Gallery in 2016 commented on this lesser-known benefit. For example, i Collective states, “working as a collective allows you to test methods and practices that you would not do individually, because of our different backgrounds and or personalities. It is challenging, because it takes more time -- as we have to discuss until we agree -- , but it is also enriching and motivating... Furthermore, we support each other not only in the professional field, but also in our private lives.” In a late capitalist world with relentless corporate strategies to extract as much data, time, and emotional labor from citizens, perhaps collaborations offer artists a community to repair the psychic damage of the daily grind and relieve the loneliness that comes from toiling away on their own in a studio. The collaborative work experience also provides artistic and personal growth to many of the members of the collectives. “Our collaboration allows us to immerse in a broader set of interests, develop new skills, stimulate our brains and meet many inspiring people,” Another Space reflects. Some of their members commented that the collective process allows them to work outside of their area of speciality or in different mediums. By leaving their comfort zone, the creation process stokes more learning and growth. As Another Space further explains, this process allows individuals to move out of the “specialized world of work,” which is of value because “as people we are more often than not into more than one thing or one way of working.” They value “the possibility of working closely with someone who has overlapping interests, but often come to them from a different angle,” noting it “...is very rewarding on a personal level as well as enriching the projects.” Members of /rive also report moving beyond their areas of
“expertise” to explore new modes, mediums and technologies through the collaborative process. “Together, we’ve developed text messaging and augmented reality tours, using technology and tools none of us had used before but building on previous projects we had completed on our own.” As social media platforms coerce citizens to see themselves as individual brands fighting for ‘likes’ in the attention economy, collaborative art production seems to offer an alternative pathway. Within this mode of production, one can take a break from the self being the constant focus. /rive asserts “We find that working together helps release us from our stubborn individual egos -- letting go of the idea that anything we produce on our own is so unique and great -- and allows us the space to explore.” The permeating influence of Eastern philosophy and Buddhism, which emphasize selflessness, seems to resonate with nearly all the participating artists, regardless of where they are from. videokaffe, with members in Finland, Russia, the US and Germany, proclaims “Working collaboratively can be freeing, it can be a release of the ego in contrast to working individually, where the artwork is always in some way related to you.” Another area where the individual seems to slip away into the greater whole is in the notion of authorship. “In the end it’s hard to say exactly who came up with which ideas or who wrote what” says Another Space, “because it has all mutated several times through different phases of work -- from idea to final presentation.” Perhaps it’s this kind of discourse -- celebrating the power of collaborative brainstorming -- that will finally squash the illusion that the individual artist/genius is preferable to the group. Those who wear dual hats of artist/curator often find that blurring the boundaries between the two may further diminish the once-exalted role of the lone artist. Francis Palazzolo of HAI writes, “...I began working as an artist-in-residence in NYC with people who lack educational resources, confront social discrimination, and manage chronic health conditions. I [also] regularly curate exhibits of our work together. By deskilling my art in this manner I learn to ‘get out of myself,’ and produce shows that activate audiences and shift the power of representation.” As his experience reveals, artists who work collaboratively to create shared work with a consistent voice often gain a new perspective on -- and perhaps a distance from -- their own individual work. FUN/PLAY One final theme that surfaced in the collective’s reflections was the sense that collaborating allowed people to be playful, open and experiment -- in a word, that it was actually just fun. This deceptively powerful sensibility offers a pleasurable way of experiencing the world, a tool to battle the drudgery of routine in everyday life, much like the way that art itself lifts us out of the ordinary. The themes of fun, play and exploration can be found in a variety of ways for the col-
lectives exhibiting their work at Open Source. Several of the collectives noted that they began working together first because they were friends who shared a lot of the same goals and interests -- why not continue the relationship while making art? Boa Mistura reflects “We have known each other since childhood and we have always shared good times together, surrounded by brushes and sprays, but it was not until we finished college when we decided to join forces to dedicate ourselves completely to urban art.” i Collective described their decision to collaborate as emerging from “Informal chats [that] became passionate discussions,” noting ultimately that as a result “Collaborative artmaking is more fun.” In this way the enjoyment they experienced already as friends only became heightened when they began making art, highlighting the potency of combining art with the social. Other collectives whose members may not have known each other beforehand also commented on how much fun they had working together with their new collaborators. Another Space gave a detailed breakdown of how this sense of play and openness helped them all. “Our collaboration allows us to immerse in a broader set of interests, develop new skills, stimulate our brains and meet many inspiring people…. In short, it makes our lives more interesting and fun.” videokaffe notes that “When surrounded by talented, dedicated people that you respect and enjoy working with, your ideas can take you anywhere.” Prosjektrom Normanns revealed that this sensibility was a requirement for collaborators “Good energy and good vibes are rule #2.” In fact, this experience of working together in a playful way also helps to chip away at the fantasy of the artist in the garret, laboring away miserably on artwork that only expresses their own singular aesthetic. Finally, enjoyment not only became an integral part of the experience for the collaborators, but also became the goal for the projects produced, so that the audience also literally shares in the fun. Boa Mistura commented: “Every project is a new adventure...In the end, our sole goal is to make communities reconnect with the place they live... and get them a smile!” Looking closer, this sensibility may serve a deeper purpose. Making fun art in a fun way brings us all out of ourselves and offers the possibility of change. As Another Space described in their vision for their collaboration: “...[the collective] hopefully introduces some fun/interest/inspiration back into the world.” In this way the experience subverts a larger perspective, one culled from capitalism’s all-pervading for-profit ideology, that having fun is frivolous, and that life and art must both be reduced to a commodity. Ignoring this and seeking out joy is absoluting liberating, for both the artmakers and the audience engaging with their work. videokaffe affirms, “Every time we come together it’s exuberance!”
As we can see from the artists’ own observations, their experience participating in Open Source’s year of collectives highlighted both the joys and challenges that these groups go through while making and bringing their work to the world. This can be a diverse range of experiences. As Shauna and Monika reflected,
“One of the most incredible things about last year was seeing the wide variety of ways that collectives work and the themes they explore. Each group brought their different energy to our community, leaving a unique impression on our neighborhood.“
At the same time, the collectives’ observations also reveal how many of these groups actually do share a similar process, rewards and concerns. And underlying all this is an urgency they all seem to feel about how increasingly important it is to make art with others during a time of massive arts defunding and great social upheaval. Nearly all the collectives who shared their thoughts on their experience exhibiting at Open Source Gallery in 2016 reflected that their decision to work with other artists has helped them all individually to have more fun, take better care of themselves, expand their audience and build community. Looking back, their reflections show how Open Source’s predictions at the beginning of 2016 have come true: “Together, groups of people can accomplish amazing things and generate much needed change. ...This year, we will exhibit collectives from across the globe to start a conversation in Brooklyn about how art can not only generate communities, but how it can also be a catalyst for social and political change.” Now let’s keep this conversation going!
/rive (Brooklyn) focuses on site-specific, locative projects that meet at the intersection of psychogeography, locative media and documentary narrative. Most projects are set in, and explore, urban public spaces. Inspired by social practice, /rive embraces collaborative and participatory methodologies, blurring the boundaries between maker, subject and audience. /rive was founded by Samara Smith and A.E. Souzis in 2013 and features a rotating number of artists who collaborate on projects relating to their own practice, conceptual themes and inspirations. Anamorphosis Anamorphosis was a spatial and relational exploration of what makes and defines a neighborhood, set in, and inspired by, the area surrounding the Open Source Gallery. The exhibitâ€™s video and photo installations, entitled Horizon Lines and Convergence Lines respectively, sought to make visible the physical and social lines that demarcate and connect a community. /rive, Anamorphosis, 2016, installation view (photos by Samara Smith)
Prosjektrom Normanns (Norway) is a non-profit, artist-run space in Stavanger, Norway, established in 2011. The space is directed by the Norwegian artists Margrethe Aanestad and Elin Melberg. Prosjektrom Normanns hosts exhibitions and projects by national and international artists and curators in its Stavanger location. The program is based on eclectic, individual and passionate curating where both up-and-coming and established artists and curators are invited. Prosjektrom Normannsâ€™ mission is to be relevant and unpredictable in programming and profile. Curating work that is experimental, site-specific and high quality with no compromises on artistic content, they aim to engage and surprise. Transcendental Tactility Transcendental Tactility was a group exhibit that explored abstract, poetic, and lyric expressions of existence and presence through a variety of media, including film, painting, textile, sculpture and drawing. This exhibit included work by Margrethe Aanestad, Per Christian Brown, Benedicte Clementsen, Elin Melberg and Kristin Velle-George. Prosjektrom Normanns, Transcendental Tactility, 2016, installation view (photos by Tommy Ellingsen)
videokaffe (international) develops moving and functioning works of sculpture, blurring false divisions between “high” and “low” technology using recycled materials, microcontrollers, wood, programming and metal, and then presents the results as performances. videokaffe members reside in Finland, the U.S., and Russia. The members of videokaffe represent various skills: carpenters, sculptors, machine constructors, video artists, sound designers, computer programmers, art educators and a watchmaker. Para-sites & Proto-types Para-sites & Proto-types transformed Open Source Gallery into a ‘science-garage-arcade’ using the space as a combination exhibition venue, cafeteria and workshop open to the public. videokaffe worked on-site, scouring and collecting from the local environment to create work by integrating found and recycled materials with ready-made components, and inviting interested viewers to participate. videokaffe, Para-sites & Proto-types, 2016, installation view (photos by Shauna Sorensen)
Healing Arts Initiative
The Healing Arts Initiative (Queens, NY) aimed to make the arts accessible to all New Yorkers, especially individuals who are isolated and marginalized due to institutionalization, hospitalization, disability and illness, as well as at-risk youth in low-income neighborhoods. HAI removed barriers to art and culture for the audiences most in need of the healing role of art. The mission of HAI was to organize a safe artistic empowerment zone for marginalized persons who are diagnosed with severe mental illness. Sole Exchange In Sole Exchange, pedestals were toppled and refashioned into seating, transforming an exclusive barrier into a utilitarian object to be shared by all. Upon these pedestals, visitors to the gallery were invited to exchange their footwear, with conversation aiming to encourage understanding and empathy between both friends and strangers. Healing Arts Initiative, Sole Exchange, 2016, installation view (photos by Shauna Sorensen)
Rawiya (Middle East), meaning â€œshe who tells a story,â€? is the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East. Members of the group include New York- and Cairo-based photographer Myriam Abdelaziz, Beirut-based photographer Tamara Abdul Hadi, Sarajevo-based photographer Laura Boushnak and East Jerusalem-based photographer Tanya Habjouqa. In Her Absence I Created Her Image The exhibit In Her Absence I Created Her Image explored the lives of communities and individuals in the Middle East through documentary photography, focusing on social, political and human rights issues across Arab countries. The exhibition culminated in a panel discussion moderated by Visura Editorial Director James Wellford that members of the group and journalist Alia Malek. Rawiya, In Her Absence I Created Her Image, 2016, installation view (photos by Anja Matthes)
guerilla-art.mx (Mexico) is an art collective consisting of street artists and filmmakers. The collective was founded by Mexico-based artist Yescka in 2011. Born from the wish to spread intercultural art, the collective has organized projects, trips, exhibitions, and has contributed to numerous street art festivals in Mexico, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. Transgression Through Transgression, conversation about displacement, injustice and inequity was brought to the fore, encouraging a narrative created not by the news outlets and pundits, but by individuals. In conjunction with the exhibit, guerilla-art.mx members and non-profit organization NURTUREart collaborated with Open Source and students from M.S. 136 in Sunset Park to produce a mural at the school titled The Confidence to Persevere. guerilla-art.mx and M.S. 136 students, The Confidence to Persevere, 2016 (photos by Molly Oâ€™Brien)
SiTE:LAB (Grand Rapids, MI) is a nomadic all-volunteer arts organization that has organized dozens of temporary site-specific art projects in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previous projects have used locations as diverse as an abandoned natural history museum, a nature preserve, vacant commercial buildings and a once-grand downtown hotel. Nothing is Destroyed The exhibit Nothing is Destroyed, inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s idea of ‘anarchitecture’, contained objects extracted from and related to previous projects surrounding the Rumsey Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that traced the trajectory of interventions at and with the desanctified church. The exhibit included work by Paul Amenta, Nick Kline and Lora Robertson. SiTE:LAB, Nothing is Destroyed, 2016, installation view (photos by Shauna Sorensen)
Boa Mistura (Spain) is a multidisciplinary team with roots in graffiti art–the term “Boa Mistura” comes from the Portuguese “good mixture,” referring to the diversity of careers and perspectives of each member. Founded in Madrid, Spain in 2001, the group develops their work mainly in the public space. Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way In June 2016, Boa Mistura created four murals in South Slope, Brooklyn, with the help of a diverse group of volunteers from across NYC. Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way depicts lyrics and quotes by Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G. At the gallery, Boa Mistura exhibited silkscreen prints alongside a video documenting the process of making the mural. Boa Mistura, Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way, 2016 (photos by Elizabeth Meggs)
Dimensions Variable (Miami, FL) is an exhibition space committed to the presentation and support of contemporary art. Through a collaborative exchange with artists and institutions, DV develops an exhibition program that engages the community and promotes new and experimental ideas. DV was founded in 2009 by artists Frances Trombly and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, who currently serve as directors. Multidisciplinary Multidisciplinary was conceived as a response to the Open Source program inviting international artist-run projects to curate its 2016 season. Dimensions Variable amplified the idea and invited a select group of artist-run spaces in South Florida to include the work of the artists who run these projects as a way to honor their work and what they bring to the community. Dimensions Variable, Multidisciplinary, 2016, installation view (photos by Shauna Sorensen)
i Collective (international) is an organic, collaborative platform of artists, curators and scientists working in the intersection of art, urban interventions and socially engaged projects. The group explores the concepts of public realm and communities, experimenting with new models of participation, self-management, creative uses of new technologies and cross-disciplinary methodology. i Collective operates around the world and has main offices in Europe and Latin America. Once Upon Unfolding Times Once Upon Unfolding Times was a hypnotic tour through a fictional city, in which the individual and the collective merge in order to imagine the possible, enjoy the unpredictable and write history. With the help of a hypnotist, on weekends throughout Once Upon Unfolding Times i Collective invited visitors to submerge into parallel universes and take pleasure in envisioning a city that is constantly being re-shaped by the forces of each community member. i Collective, Once Upon Unfolding Times, 2016 (photo by Shauna Sorensen)
Another Space Another Space (Denmark) is a project space for art and architecture based in Copenhagen and Oslo, established and run by curator Marte Danielsen JĂ¸lbo and architect Nicola Louise Markhus. Organized as a nomadic curatorial partnership, Another Space presents exhibitions in collaboration with various galleries and organizations. Through various approaches and formats, they seek to critically investigate thematic issues and processual working methods in the cross-disciplinary field of art, architecture and society. Permanent Construction Permanent Construction looked at the complicity of architectural, aesthetic, social, and artistic modes of being under permanent construction. Permanent Construction was curated in collaboration with Victoria Bugge Ă˜ye and contained work by Owen Armour (Denmark), Anna Daniell (Norway) and Melodie Mousset (France). Another Space, Permanent Construction, 2016, installation view (photos by Guillaume Ziccarelli)
EXHIBITIONS 306 17th Street, 2017
top: Dante Brown | Warehouse Dance x Jayson Smith,The Middle Passage, 2017 (photo by Kate Ladenheim) left: Same as Sister (S.A.S.),The Middle Passage, 2017 (photo by Kate Ladenheim) The Middle Passage was a performance art series curated by George Del Barrio and Kate Ladenheim using a focused camera obscura with multiple projections of the world outside the gallery to create surface-mapped stages upside-down and backwards on the gallery walls. For this project, the residential block outside of Open Source was offered to local artists as a laboratory for a reinterpretation of the space and the landscape. The project transformed our shared spaces into a spectacle that allowed the physics of the universe to bend in support of the artists.
Andrew Snyder, 9 Meditations, 2017, performance (photo by Anja Matthes)
Liinu Grรถnlund, It could have been, 2017, installation view (photo by Anja Matthes)
The Fire Theory, ICE (curated by Omar Lรณpez-Chahoud), 2017, installation view (photos by Anja Matthes)
above and previous page: Francesco Simeti, Swell, 2017, installation view (photo by Dario Lasagni) In Swell, Simeti transformed appropriated images from Brooklyn waterways, such as the Gowanus Canal, into a motorized installation in which the public contemplated the consequences of human activity on our surroundings. The Gowanus Canal was built in the mid-1800s as an industrial transportation route. All of waste discharged into the canal over time has made the Gowanus Canal into one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated bodies of water. The canal was declared a Superfund site in 2010 yet remains the home of industrial factories, small businesses, artist studios and rapidly gentrifying residential areas. Currently the bottom of the canal is coated to a layer of toxic sediment–nicknamed “black mayonnaise”– that averages 10 feet thick, reaching 20 feet in some places. In a twist of irony, this sludge resembles a noxious primordial soup and microbes have evolved to live off the pollution. It seems that the canal has not only become uninhabitable for wildlife, but could be breeding new and previously unidentified organisms uniquely adapted to their putrid environment. The diametrically opposed elements present in the history of the canal–life and death, order and destruction, reality and fiction, the light-hearted and the devastating–mirror Simeti’s practice, which amplifies multifaceted environmental, social and political concerns into an immersive, kinetic installation. Playful historical images of Coney Island rides and other human intervention along the water intertwine with scenes of flora and fauna that once flourished along the Gowanus Canal. Adopting a DIY aesthetic, Simeti takes inspiration from puppet theater and Baroque mechanical automata, which combined an awe of nature with an affinity for artifice, to explore the social, cultural and historical significance of Brooklyn waterways. Combining the installation with workshops, collaborative projects and partnerships with local organizations, Swell engaged with the consequences of human activity on a local level, depicting nature as both a playground and a battle zone, and encouraging action.
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE x
How to Build a Fire is a storytelling series that was created by poet Terence Degnan at Open Source in 2014. The series explores the oral tradition, inviting in different storytellers each month to tell their stories from memory. The audience becomes a part of modern-day folk tale traditions, listening to the storytellers and passing on the information they’ve learned to their own friends and family. Degnan has brought in new curators for each season. Dennis Earl II curated Season 2 alongside Kate Hill Cantrill. Terence Degnan: I am sitting here with Dennis Norris, do you go by Dennis Norris II? Dennis Norris II: Yeah, I’ve gone by that since my father passed away in 2010. I’ve been going by Dennis Norris II. T: And I’m interviewing Dennis for the 10th anniversary of Open Source Gallery. Dennis was the first co-host that I asked to host at How to Build a Fire storytelling series, he co-hosted with a woman, another author, by the name of Kate Hill Cantrill. What would be the thing that people should professionally know about you first? How would you describe yourself as a writer in comparison to other writers? D: I’m really just writing about the lives of queer black men, particularly in terms of effeminate queer black men, for a number of reasons. That’s super important to me that people know that about my work. I think it’s pretty apparent in my work. The other thing is that I’m trying to write everything through a social justice, political, feminist... blend, so, those are all elements and things that I’m thinking about, and I want my sentences in my stories to operate on--on all levels, at all times. Not that I do it successfully all the time, but it’s what I’m trying to do.
T: So now, onto the storytelling series, which is why we are here, which isn’t true, because when Shauna asked me to do a write up about the series, I thought it’d be better to interview someone for the write up, which is also not true, because what I really thought to myself is: well, I just want to hang out with Dennis, and this is just a really good excuse to hang out with Dennis. But I thought that of all of our hosts, you were the first person to know exactly what was wanting to be accomplished, and also knew what else, extra, that you wanted to bring to the table, and how your personality could accomplish that, and the blending of that was almost seamless, as opposed to, you know, there being a longer give and take. You kind of showed up and were running right from the very first show, and at the last show, you were very upset. You’re the first person that wasn’t exhausted. I remember the quote: “It’s fine that you’re going to have other hosts next season, but I’m going to host next season, so that’s just how it’s going to be.” and I thought, that’s phenomenal, that’s exactly what I hope for hosts to feel like they accomplished. What orginally drew you to become a host at How to Build a Fire? D: Well, first, thank you for all of the kind words. T: It’s just true. D: Well, hosting How to Build a Fire was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had thus far living in NYC. I was constantly surprised by just the stories that were told, and the way that they really seemed to impact the community that we’re in, and I think that was a big part of what really drew me to it, was that it was storytelling as an oral exercise; something I wasn’t really familiar with, and so I was really interested in taking up a new experience and kind of learning as I went, rather than having to feel like I was going into something with expertise. I feel like in adulthood, especially young adulthood, we are always looking for opportunities where you have expertise to prove yourself and begin to build your life and your reputation. This was a thing where, someone just randomly was like: “You will be good at this, I know you will,” and I was like: “I don’t even know what the ‘this’ is that you’re talking about, but I’m just going to try it and see what happens.” And there’s a lot of freedom in that, that’s a really exciting experience. One
of the things that was amazing to me was how, month after month we had people coming to the series, we had newcomers, and we had sort of old-faithfuls who would come every time, and the practice of sharing stories with people was such a beautiful communal experience, that it ended up meaning a lot more to me than I thought it would, like, I thought it would be a great opportunity as a writer, kind of fun, something to do with Terry more than just being his neighbor, and it was so much more than that. It really has informed me about the importance of literature, and stories, so that was very beneficial as a writer. D: How did this even, I mean, how did this even come about for you? T: It’s kind of a funny story because, I don’t even know if I believe it anymore. I know that I’ve told it a bunch of times because people ask. You know how Open Source is kind of like a chapel for people who don’t go to church? Like people feel safe, having conversations they wouldn’t usually have, especially after there’s a conversation about race, or social justice or anything… Like, once there was a trans man that came and told a story about being a Buddhist, and the fact that he was trans never even was brought up, but some of the community that came to hear the story knew, and so the conversations that happened in that space felt safe for the storyteller, in a way that I feel like the series has presented itself. I feel like there is a gaze, and it doesn’t really feel like the series has an agenda, other than to say we are a part of the community, and the conversation that happened after his story was about religion. I thought in the moment that happened, I thought it was amazing because because what we are trying to accomplish isn’t always talking about these hot button issues, but also how our lives are affected personally. So that was a huge success. But, originally, I had read poetry, and I was asked to do a one-off at the space, and Mon-
ika, who runs the gallery with Shauna, said, “Would you like to come back?” and I said sure, and then she asked, “Well, would you like to come back as a monthly thing?” and I said, “Well, I’ll have to think about that… It’s a commitment.” So, a couple days later, I said to her, and it’s funny because when I tell this story now, it sounds like I’m trying to be humble, because I didn’t do a poetry event, but I felt like having that ability to enable other writers that would stifle my writing. So, instead, I said, I had this conversation with Bob Holman, who is a poet, at his latest book release. He’s a well known poet in the city, so I said, “Bob, I don’t know if you remember me, from an activist thing we did a decade ago when Bush was in office, we were protesting outside Bowery Poetry Club together.” He said, “Oh no, Terence, I know who you are, come on.” That was a big day, he just leaned in and said “The Oral Tradition” in a way that, like, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. He said, “No, I mean if it doesn’t have something to do with The Oral Tradition, well, you know, there’s a loss there, there’s a you know, it’s not a victory.” And, you know, poetry stems in storytelling, but there’s work there, with the reader, that has to be done, that doesn’t have to be done with storytelling. That happened between meetings with Monika, so I went back and said, “Well, Monika, what I’d really like to do, is a community building storytelling event, where we don’t really talk about community building, that’s just the essence of it. The people that come to the space, the people that we ask to come and tell stories are automatically trusted, well cared for, and that they represent the community we want to build, And since then, all of the hosts have felt that loose structure that has helped fortify communities in ways that I could never accomplish personally; that was bigger than me. We were able to accomplish trust
in a way that doesn’t happen in intentional spaces. The way that space is always changing, and the way that artists are already represented, that’s how that came about. Monika automatically said “Yes, you know I trust you, I don’t know what that is.” I mean she has the cHURCH OF MONIKA, but she didn’t know how I was going to make it just storytelling. That’s all it’s going to be, just people telling stories about their lives, whatever they wanted to do. The first year, we were just flying by the seat of our pants with rules, and in the last couple years those rules have been less loose as traditional storytellers have come more into play. I guess we were short on rules, and we’ve sort of made tweaks, and, well, it’s on its fourth season. D: It makes me wonder about the name, How to Build a Fire. Is there a story for that? T: There’s a failure that’s good in the name in that it’s been misinterpreted. Everybody thinks that it’s about sitting around a campfire, which is not true at all. Every year we change the symbol, but the first year, the symbol Monika created was an X that is two sticks of wood that are on fire, and then there are the three sonic waves, which represent doing something electronically, above the fire, surrounded by the box or whatever. But the way that the name came about was, the only way that you can continue to exist is to teach somebody how to build a fire. Like, before you can cook, before you can make clothes or whatever, you have to have a fire, and that’s how the title of the series came to be. You’re teaching the people in the space in which you live how to continue to coexist, and one of those ways is by making food, and one of the ways is making sure that people know where the fire will be, and so How to Build a Fire came from that. Because storytelling happens around a fire people misinterpret it. That’s kind of why I love it, because that’s a huge part of storytelling: misinterpreting things in a way that is also kind of beautiful. T: So, what do you know about Open Source’s mission and what affect did it have on you in your time as cohost in the series? D: I don’t know if I thought a lot about Open Source’s mission as much as I understood that
How to Build a Fire was in line with that--in that the series was that sense of home grown and localness to it. Like just how How to Build a Fire--where the name is intentional--the name Open Source Gallery is very intentional. There’s a certain sense of collecting without boundary, like mining data collectively from anywhere. You see that with the artists featured at Open Source because they’re from all over the world, and as they should be. There’s a lot of attention paid to being part of a larger context, which I think the series and the gallery kind of operate in the same lens in that way. So, as a host, I just sort of trusted that, and did my best to expand that view and that vision so that I was bringing in guests and storytellers, which I knew well, that sort of lived their lives in that way and I knew would bring stories that would reflect that openness and that sense of being a part of a bigger context. T: The one thing that I’ve noticed that we’ve had more of than any other single entity is activists, not the kind that you would expect, but moreover, the kind of activists that have implemented activism into their weekly calendars. To hear those people tell a story about themselves, and not about activism, has been a huge encouragement to me, because activism oftentimes becomes very lonely, and oftentimes, what I got from the series, was a rejuvenated spirit. I walked away knowing that my work was not empty, because there were other lone wolves out there encouraging themselves by telling their stories, and I felt like that was a huge success of the series. Now, different types of activism and definitely other agendas have shown up since then, but that has been consistent. That’s been surprising because the hosts are sometimes not as big of activists as we were in the first couple years, but still, like, last night: last night we had a sort of Footloose story from someone who was spearheading the rescindment of the cabaret laws that prohibit people from dancing in Manhattan, which are stupid and they don’t get enforced. T: As a host, what would you have done differently, if you had a do-over? D: If I could do anything differently, I would put more time into growing the series. It was still sort of early in its tenure, it was still just the second season. But, at this stage in my life, I have more resources at my disposal than I did then, more connections. I would try to have more engagement with the gallery outside of the series. That was something that was hard to do with my schedule. T: One thing I notice about this year, at the gallery, is that it became more political as well. D: That’s not surprising knowing Monika and Open Source. T: But I think that there’s an intentionality there, too, that we absolutely need to give power to where it needs to go, as much as we can. There’s so much power, in small spaces like that, that cast long shadows regardless of their size, that has really impressed me. I mean, you can see Open Source all throughout Brooklyn, because they have murals all throughout the borough, and they do different community-building events in other spaces, they’re teaching kids about art, about creating robots, and all this interesting stuff, that Open Source can’t contain within those four
walls and, instead, it’s everywhere. D: Which of course, goes back to its naming. But it’s also an embodiment of the idea. I think it’s a Virginia Woolf quote, but I’m not entirely sure: “The personal is political.” This idea that there’s a boundary between those two things, which is of course, specious. I feel like what I’m seeing with Open Source in the series, and everywhere else, too, is a mass tearing down of those boundaries. T: What was your one moment during your tenure as a host that struck a bell, where somebody said something or did something during a story, that just rang true? D: Probably, for me, it was in the very first night of the series, one of my storytellers was a very close friend of mine named Erica Buddington, who told this incredible story, that did speak to her life as an educator, which is a life of activism as well. In addition to the fact that it was just an incredibly powerful story, where the community listeners really rallied around, you could see the belief in that story in the listeners. T: Well, they wept. D: They wept! T: Because the student in question died. Is it okay to say that? So, there was a poem she had written, that she had performed that night, which is technically against the rules, but she told a story completely around how that affected her life as a teacher. Even though she has dedicated her life to being an educator, she couldn’t stop that death from occurring. D:Yeah, it was amazing. But you could see--it was almost like electricity, that shot between her and the audience--and there were many more moments like that during that season as well. T: It was the first one. D: And I was, like, when you asked me to tell a story, I did, and I loved it. But it was Erica’s moment where I realized what the series was about. The oral tradition is the foundation of that. I remember that in that moment, it kind of opened my eyes, and has since influenced, in many ways, my work. So that was like a laser-focused epiphany that made me realize, this is what the oral tradition is. T: And she wasn’t afraid to talk about death, in real time. And there’s an expression that I’m going to fuck up, that goes: “A person dies three times, once during the time of death, once when you bury them, and then the last time that you say their name.” And that was the story, to this very day, where, that student was alive again. She was extending their existence, because she had loved him by telling his story. By telling it without watering it down, by trusting her audience to experience that death in real time, all over again. That’s why, I felt, the audience was brought to tears. D: I was just like, “This is it.” T: The essence of How to Build a Fire, yeah.
cHURCH OF MONIKA Established in 2010, the cHURCH OF MONIKA takes its inspiration from the role that churches have in fostering communities. Inspired by the Rothko Chapel, a sacred space that aims to inspire action through art and contemplation, the cHURCH is a non-denominational lecture series focused on dialogue. From artists to scientists to activists, the cHURCH offers monthly engagement designed to create conversation, challenge preconceived notions and encourage action.
LOOKING BACK Stacie Evans I presented my comics project at cHURCH. I’m in the early-ish stage of a series about racism, and I wanted to use my cHURCH session to have the audience help me think through some of the questions that were coming up for me. The audience was a perfect mix of people -- some friends who were very familiar with the project, a few friends who knew about the project but weren’t terribly familiar, and some complete strangers who were cHURCH friends and regulars and knew nothing at all about my work. I presented the basic idea of the project -- how it got started, how I’m envisioning it now -- so folks unfamiliar with the work would have something to go on, and then started with questions. The conversation was extremely helpful for me. But even before the conversation, prepping for the presentation helped me clarify some of my thinking. The cHURCH session took that even further. And, in the end, I left with a much stronger sense of how to move forward with the creation of the project and also more confidence in my idea. Such a great experience for me -- someone who’s still totally feeling her way along a very uncertain-feeling path with a dauntingly-large project. cHURCH OF MONIKA is such a welcoming, open, intelligent space, and really gave me the chance to test my ideas and get some great feedback about the direction I’m moving in. A total pleasure for me, and I’m so grateful to Monika and Shauna for the space they’ve created and for inviting me to participate.
left: Ethan Crenson, In nineteen hundred and forty-five, the atom bomb, it came alive..., 2009 From his impressive collection of 78 rpm records containing songs about the atomic bomb, Ethan Crenson filled the cHURCH OF MONIKA with gospel and sacred music as it grappled with the reality of the new and massively destructive force–a force contained in the very atoms of God’s creation. The actual 78 rpm records from the era, 1945 to 1958, was played right before the congregations ears.
Leigh Davis at Greenwood Cemetery, 2014 Finding non-traditional, public spaces for her work is central to her practice, which strongly attends to how the work is experienced. Davis led a walk through the cemetery, stopping to discuss themes of memorial and memory in her work.
Stacie Evans, Adventures in Racism, 2016
clockwise: Megan Hustad, Ghost Projects, or, Where do you put art you never made?, 2015 Erin Gleason, Copernican Views, 2015 Karen M. Rose, Healing with Plant Medicine, 2015 Azza Saad, My Life, 2014
DARK SALON: COPERNICAN VIEWS Erin Gleason Copernican Views - Revelations Through Darkness was the first in my series of Dark Salons. The Dark Salon is an open discussion exploring the philosophical ideas behind an accompanying exhibition, talk, or event. All participants (including myself as moderator) are blindfolded, discovering ways to navigate group conversation without the visual cues we typically rely on. For the Salon held at Open Source Gallery, a series of images, texts, and recordings about the topic of darkness were presented during an Instagram takeover and at the beginning of the Salon as a starting point for conversation. The topic was inspired by the shift in cultural, scientific, and philosophical thought that marked the Renaissance. If we shift our reference point from one of light to one of darkness, how does that affect how we navigate space, conversation, and thought?
What emerged during the Dark Salon, through much humor, curiosity, and
insight, was an open trust and care among the participants. To embrace darkness as a comfortable space is no easy task. To be able to overcome the vulnerability of no longer being able to see and to still be able to honestly share one’s thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics, friends and strangers alike, is an act of courage and generosity. The group was very generous, gracious and willing while participating in this very strange, very awkward task. What we discovered is that the visual cues we typically rely on during conversations are helpful but can also be distractions. To be able to truly listen not only to others, but also to the sounds and life of the space that we are occupying, is a rare gift we give ourselves in contemporary culture. Many of the participants expressed the calming affect the Salon had on them, once they overcame the awkwardness of this quirky shared experience. Perhaps the overcoming of discomfort is part of any paradigm shift, even during these small, temporary ones. One can hope that this experience, and the Dark Salons in general, can help us open up to unwritten futures and to the ability of holding multiple truths simultaneously by loosening our grip on the illusionary structures that we typically rely on in order to create a sense of security. “The future is dark,” Virginia Woolf expressed, “which is the best thing the future can be, I think.” I think so too.
Soup Kitchen Every year in December, the Open Source Soup Kitchen brings together artists, cooks, friends and neighbors for a month of cooking, eating, sharing and celebrating. Volunteers from all walks of life share their food and their art with our community. The Soup Kitchen creates challenging dialogue, inspires understanding and brings our community closer together.
LOOKING BACK: SOUP KITCHEN 2016 Teresa Santamaria So this is as much about the Open Source Soup Kitchen as it is about me. They will be intermingled. I’ve been following the gallery for many years – enjoying its contribution to our community and the community’s interactive contribution to the gallery – because of knowing Monika/Open Source through the kids’ soccer, and through other supports – Gesa, Martin, Francesco, etc. That means there is ART and there is community – and that they can be together. I thought, well, how can I commit more, and rather than only support, be more. There are terrific events, etc. to financially support, and my kid doing Soap Box, offering supplies to Soap Box and more. The first time I heard/read/saw the Soup Kitchen, I thought: “Just like Monika, feeding the homeless in the gallery….” Then, when I talked to Martin, I realized it was that feeding people and and and….Soup Kitchen was a forum for “giving” and for creating. I wanted to go (to someone else’s Soup Kitchen night), and never got there…When I found out anyone could sign up to run a Soup Kitchen night’s program, I thought, well, maybe I could do that one year. Though not an artist I am human, and love finding art in life, and life in art, so maybe, I could, no maybe I WILL do a Soup Kitchen night. I let the first year of my awareness pass. The next year, I thought: “Oh, I have too much to do in December.” …..and then, in realizing that I was challenging my family to do something new..…make sushi, go to a clay pottery workshop, etc., I thought…time to stick my neck out….sign up… the only night was
Dec 31, the last night of the year…do it! I didn’t tell my son and husband for awhile, thinking of their disapproval. I thought, “What will I make? What program will I run? What soup will I serve?” It was the BEST rush for EOY that I had ever had. I didn’t have an ART context to run, and I hadn’t thought about inviting anyone to run it while I made the soup…so I might do it differently next time. My family was definitely supportive….José helped me find many passages for Inspiration, which I had decided was the theme, and for those who came, we read poetry that people brought, and I, with books and sheets of poems and readings handy. My son, was more the man he will be than the kid he was, and was terrific and helpful – both supported me to the max (I was nervous!). And though we were few, it was engaging and I was changed. I felt I had become more. More Soup this year! Last year, lentils for New Year’s… bringing the wealth of the New Year to you, and Chorizo Bean soup – which I had just learned to make and was DELISH! We brought two big pots of soup using my shopping cart for transport – and bread and cheese, and
wine and a shopping cart, just like the bag lady I am……it was heaven on 17th Street. The gallery was cozy and lovely, Shauna was tired and ebullient from a great month. There was sand on the floor from a past exhibit, and the candles shone brightly. A dog visited, and his human, a couple of couples and others. It was lovely. 2017, I go to someone else’s, sign up to run my own, and think about my program AND my soup, and all that I am thankful for…in my community and for Open Source. Signed, a Soup Kitchen Advocate!
In 2007, Monika Wuhrer began the Open Source childrenâ€™s program alongside establishing the gallery. In 2017, our education program got a makeover and became Koko NYC. Over the past ten years, we have served children of all ages through programs in schools, indoor workshops, outdoor workshops, the gallery, festivals, street fairs and--once--at a skate park! Kids in our programs have made robots, green houses, boats, cars and crazy, creative kinetic sculptures. Koko NYC relies on the interests and creativity of children to drive the program. bottom: Build-A-House Workshop (Photo by Anja Matthes) next page: Boat Building (Photo by Anja Matthes), page 132/133: Soap Box Derby (Photo by Miho Suzuki)
Hello, I am Gabriel Thompson, and I love Soap Box. It’s a nice and friendly small camp that builds a community of friends. Let me tell you how I found and love this camp and organization, by starting with the beginning. It must have been the summer I moved or the summer after when me and my dad were going and wandering around, on a sunny day. Then we looked at the end of the block and saw a crowd. So, we naturally wandered towards the crowd, looking at the event. Then my dad said something like “Woah. Where did they get those.” I had no idea if I was looking at the crowd, or wondering what he was talking about, but suddenly my dad picked me up and then I saw one of the most dream-like things in my life. There were maybe 20 kids — 2 or so years older than me riding on pieces of wood with circles on the bottom! Wait — let me make the connection — those look like miniature wooden cars! I was immediately in awe and said I wanted to ride on the wood. Of course, I wasn’t able to. After, we found out something that made the whole situation a thousand times crazier. They built the cars. The kids. Kids — the people that sit in the back seat of cars — can build their own cars? What? And what’s more, there was a summer camp that you could go to, where you build the karts. This got me going. I wanted to sign up for the summer camp instantly. And then we found out that the camp was 7 and older. I was very disappointed. But I wouldn’t sit down. I would go home, and build. My first attempt: build a 10,000 mph roller coaster out of cardboard boxes! Well, obviously that failed as my optimistic ridiculous 5-yearold self. But that wasn’t the embarrassing ending. I learned how to use tools. Not just the toys, power drills and saws, hammers, mallets, screwdrivers, and more. And that variety grew exponentially wider and wider until I was my own handyman. And then I turned 7. The year! I could finally build a car! And that summer, I enrolled in Soap Box Derby camp. I imagined a 10,000 mph roller coaster out of cardboard boxes! Wait — already tried that. Nope. But I made a design. Got a blueprint. And I was ready. That day, I came home and told my parents all about it. The plan. The friends. The mind-blowingly chill people who were not like teachers, but like a friend. In one week, my go-kart fantasy was a reality. And in 5 days, I had had the time of my life. I went the next year. And the next. And the next. So I end here. Sincerely, Gabriel Thompson (Camper, age 11).
Executive Director: Monika Wuhrer Development Director: Shauna Sorensen Art Education Director: Lea Bender Program Administrator: Marley Silverman Board of Directors: Emma Lewis Charlotte Mendelaar Pim Zeegers Conrad Lower Lily White Stefan Hagen Amanda Alic Gesa Kudlack Michele Jaslow Sheryll Durrant Thank you to all of our friends, supporters, artists, neighbors, interns, and volunteers--and a special thanks to Small Editions.
306 17th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215 www.opensourcegallery.org
In 2017 Open Source celebrated 10 Years. To honor this anniversary we published a catalogue.