On October 7th, I officially launched @GALLERY, an experiment in art space that I believe will set the art world back on its heels.
The ongoing exhibit, Display / Disrupt, began with an opening reception just like any other gallery show— only it was in the apartment of NYU professor, Michelle Dent.
For a show that intends to focus on a series of discussions about the effect that display has on meaning, the location is perfect. It is, after all, itself, a disruption—a disruption of Ms. Dent’s private space, for sure, but a disruption also of viewer expectations, with lamplight and books, furniture, and …a cat!— certainly not the normal surgical sweep of white that one expects when glowering at serious art.
We’ve all been informed by one lofty personage or another, that a white wall and a grey floor aid in the display of art because they do not interfere or compete with the artworks, but instead supply only anchors and shelter. Few of us have questioned this. We take white seriously and never doubt its magic ability to erase itself.
But think of white: hospital rooms, sterility and cold, sanctity and austerity…why is a bare white room with blaring lights considered neutral at all? What’s so unassuming about white, that finger-wagging cleric of colors? What’s unobtrusive about forcing my warm browns and fiery reds to blare like ambulance sirens against the vulnerable plaster of the gallery wall?
Before the white walled gallery, there was the salon: curtains and carpets and whopping gold frames, the artworks piled and stacked on the walls, competing (!) for attention. We all know that, right? How wrong that was! Or was it?
When modern art galleries decided to paint their walls white and, in effect, free the art object from its surroundings, well, those were times when we still kind of believed in objectivity; when we actually thought we could erase context. And then, the artworks they were showing were supposed to be about capturing form or isolating color, or making jokes about composition, so, it kind of almost seemed appropriate.
The white wall was perfect for the worship of art, for those generations that believed in art for art’s sake and who thought that art should be revered, beatified, and kept pure-and-separate from life.
But we don’t believe that anymore, do we? No. In fact, we believe in cuddling up next to art, kissing its cheek —burning our hand on it, perhaps smacking it in the gob and slandering it’s best friend.
We have had our knuckles slapped for some years now, for invoking the old gods, charm, beauty, context, even (forgive me!) design. As if those who broke the rules had no shame about replacing them with stricter ones. So now it’s time to rebel. It’s time to match the couch. Time to consider what a red lamp shade will look like next to a metallic paint. Time to hang a plant near a sculpture. Time to remember that white is the worst kind of imposition. And time to feel free to use art, live art, and make art ours again.
DISPLAY / DISRUPT shows through Dec 1
Viewing hours, Thursdays 2-4PM
Or by appointment: email@example.com
400 Broome Street, Suite 412
(off of Centre, across the street from the old police headquarters)