Image: Still from IT IS A GOOD PROJECT AND SHOULD BE BUILT, 2024 by Fred Schmidt-Arenales. Courtesy of the artist.



Fred Schmidt-Arenales


Exhibition Dates

Mar 13th, 2024 – Jun 1st, 2024



This exhibition focuses on a proposed $57 billion water development infrastructure project called the Texas Coastal Barrier Project, colloquially known as the Ike Dike. Expanding upon the existing Galveston Seawall, the Ike Dike is framed as a means of protection from hurricane-induced storm surge flooding in Galveston Bay and along the petrochemical corridor in the Houston ship channel. When completed, it will include a greater than 2 mile long ocean barrier that, when closed, will plug the entrance to Galveston Bay. 


Employing documentary and narrative filmmaking strategies, this three channel video installation explores the symbolic and unconscious projections underpinning the Ike Dike. The scenes toggle between recordings of actual bureaucratic proceedings and open-ended imaginary scenarios in which avatars representing state actors engage in decidedly non-bureaucratic actions. By untangling the governmental interests driving this  project, the work offers viewers a field for imagining how they might intervene in such opaque processes. IT IS A GOOD PROJECT AND SHOULD BE BUILT contemplates human attempts to engineer nature into submission under the guise of resiliency, and at the cost of huge ecological detriment.


This work on view at Storefront will eventually be developed into a feature length film following the exhibition.  


About the Artist

Fred Schmidt-Arenales is an artist and filmmaker. His projects attempt to bring awareness to unconscious processes on the individual and group level. He has presented films, installations, and performances internationally at venues including SculptureCenter and Abrons Arts Center (New York), Links Hall (Chicago), The Darling Foundry (Montreal), LightBox and The Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Artspace (New Haven), The Museum of Fine Arts and FotoFest (Houston), Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst und Medien (Graz), and Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna). His recent film Committee of Six was an official selection of the 2022-23 Architecture and Design Film Festival and was awarded a jury prize for best film at the 2023 Onion City Experimental Film Festival.



Swamplands, a year of research and programs at Storefront for Art and Architecture focused on the ethical and technical entanglements of water, takes the murky soil and unstable grounds of swamps as a conceptual framework to highlight the ecological and socioeconomic intricacies that lie at the threshold between bodies of water and land. Presenting newly commissioned works and exhibitions that are anchored alongside the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Swamplands explores unique social, political, and economic conditions in the tidelands of Louisiana, Yucatan, and Texas respectively. In addition to the three exhibitions, this multi-sited project will also unfold through public programs, radio broadcasts, a research fellowship, an open call, and a thematic reader connecting with other geographies dealing with the increasing complexities of wetlands.



This exhibition is organized by the Storefront Team

Lead Curator: Jessica Kwok


Graphic design by Estudio Herrera



This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Mellon Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and The Stolbun Family; with invaluable support from Storefront’s Board of Directors, the Storefront Circle, Storefront members, and individual donors. Storefront is a proud member of CANNY (Collaborative Arts Network New York), currently supported by the Mellon Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and Jay DeFeo Foundation. Storefront extends special thanks to CARA.