Living as Form will present four "living" commissioned artist projects located throughout the Lower East Side. Artists Bik Van der Pol, Carolina Caycedo, SUPERFLEX , and Time/Bank (Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle) have each produced a project embodying some of the key tenets of socially engaged art, which will run throughout the exhibition.
Bik Van der Pol will produce Elements of Composition, a site-specific public intervention in conjunction with daily walking tours open to visitors. The intervention consists of the text "As Above, So Below" painted on the surface of a parking lot adjacent to the Essex Street Market. The phrase points toward the contentious (re)valuation of space in the neighborhood, including vertical development and the issue of "air rights," which apply to owning the space above plots of land. The letters will read as abstractions from the ground, but will be completely legible from the upper stories of buildings as well as on Google Earth via satellite imagery.
As an important component of this project, the artists will create public walking tours—based on their research and interviews with scholars, urban planners, activists, and organizers—that will originate from a hub in the exhibition space, and lead visitors around the Lower East Side to consider not only what is visible at street-level, but also those elements of the built environment that have been erased or are yet to exist in three dimensions. Inspired by what the artists call "the concept of the void," the tours will move both horizontally and vertically around the neighborhood, from the parking lot installation to the top of a tall building for an aerial view of the project and its surroundings—including the "voids" of empty lots in the neighborhood that may, one day, be filled in with new structures.
The artists would like to thank GeoEye, Natasha Llorens, Michelle Hyun, and all scholars, urban planners, activists, architects, artists, and organizers that so generously shared their knowledge and insights.
Bik Van der Pol is the collaborative practice of Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol (both live and work in Rotterdam). Since they began working together in 1995, their installations, videos, and drawings have interrogated the temporality of physical and cultural spaces. Their work has been shown at the 10th Biennale de Lyon in 2010, the Istanbul Biennale in 2007 and the Moscow Biennale in 2007. In 2010 they won the Enel Contemporanea Award, shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome.
Carolina Caycedo will collaborate with members of local religious, spiritual and social activist groups living and working in the Lower East Side on a project that moves fluidly across belief systems and evokes illumination as a universal metaphor for transcendence. Collaborators include: Rabbi Michael Feinberg and the Greater Labor-Religion Coalition; Anthony Donovan, facilitator of the Local Faith Communities; Reverend Adriene Thorne of the Middle Collegiate Church; The Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir directed by John Del Cueto; Amy Stein Milford, Deputy Director of the Museum at Eldridge Street; Martha Polin, Principal from The Lower East Side Preparatory High School; Yajna Purusa from the Bhakti Center; and Hooshmand Sheshbaradaran and Kate Digby of the New York Baha’i community. Working with hundreds of screen-printed glass votive candles as a medium that is easily distributable, Caycedo and her collaborators will create two spiritually inclusive public shrines and candle-lighting events in Lower East Side public spaces on September 24 and 25. For more information on the events, see schedule of events.
In conjunction with these events, a neon installation of the word “Blessings” spelled in five languages commonly spoken by residents of the Lower East Side will be displayed in the windows of the historic Essex Street Market. A motion-sensor will cause the signs to illuminate each time a passerby emerges out of the darkness of the subway below the exhibition space.
Carolina Caycedo (born in 1978 in London; lives and works in Los Angeles) is an artist who is invested in urban street cultures, issues of immigration, and processes of exchange. Her practice often incorporates bartering in city streets in order to develop an alternative value system to the traditional capitalist structure. Her work has been exhibited in well-known museums and festivals worldwide, including the 2009 New Museum’s Generational, 2006 Whitney Biennale, the 2003 Venice Biennale, and the 2002 Istanbul Biennial.
SUPERFLEX will create a life-sized, detailed, and functional replica of the JPMorgan Chase executives' restroom inside the restroom of the Olympic Restaurant located on on the corner of Essex and Delancey Streets in New York. The installation, open and for public use, will not only provide an essential service, but will ask visitors to contemplate the structures of power that become imbued in even the most unassuming architectural spaces.
SUPERFLEX, founded in 1993 and based in Copenhagen, is an artist collaborative whose projects engage economic forces, explorations of the democratic production of materials, and self-organization. They describe their projects as tools for spectators to actively participate in the development of experimental models that alter the prevailing model of economic production. For the ongoing project Guarana Power (2003), the artists developed a soft drink in collaboration with Guarana farmers in the Brazilian Amazon who have organized themselves in response to the corporate monopoly on the purchase of raw material. SUPERFLEX has participated in most of the international biennials such as Sao paulo, Venice, Gwangju, Istanbul, Berlin, Taipei and Prospect1, they have had numerous important solo shows in large institutions such as Kunsthalle Basel, Kiasma and Van AbbeMuseum. Their solo show at Peter Blum Chelsea in spring 2010 was chosen by Village Voice as The Best Art of 2010.
Time/Bank is a tool for people in the arts to get things done without using money. Started by Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle last September, Time/Bank is an international community of more than 1500 artists, curators, writers and others in the field of art, who are interested in developing a parallel economy based on exchange of time and skills. This September, Time/Bank will open a temporary restaurant located in New York’s Lower East Side, which will offer daily lunch in exchange for time credits and time currency that you can earn by helping others in Time/Bank community. The restaurant, located at Abrons Arts Center, will be open September 24-October 16th, Thursdays-Sundays from 1-3PM, and will offer a changing daily menu of meals prepared with recipes provided by a group of artists who like to cook, including Martha Rosler, AA Bronson, Liam Gillick, Mariana Silva, Judi Werthein, Rirkrit Tiravanija, WAGE, Carlos Motta and many others. To use the restaurant, join Time/Bank and start earning time credits. To open an account, visit www.e-flux.com/timebank.
Locally grown produce generously donated to the Time/Food restaurant by Local Roots NYC.
Time/Bank is based on the premise that everyone in the field of culture has something to contribute and that it is possible to develop and sustain an alternative economy by connecting existing needs with unacknowledged resources. Time/Bank allows individuals to request, offer, and pay for services in "Hour Notes." When a task is performed, the credit hours earned may be saved and used at a later date, given to another person, or contributed towards developing larger communal projects.