Gulf

Saturday June 22, 2024 – Saturday August 31, 2024

 

Gulf

Imani Jacqueline Brown

 

Opening:

Saturday June 22nd, 2024, 4 – 6:30pm

Special performance by Les Cenelles at 5pm

97 Kenmare Street

New York, NY

 

[RSVP]

 

Gulf by Imani Jacqueline Brown examines geographies of oil and gas, spanning from their cosmological origins to our emancipatory futures. For a decade, Imani has traced the fractal catastrophes that unfurl along the continuum of extractivism in her homeland of Louisiana, from colonialism and slavery to fossil fuel production.

 

Now, through audiovisual layering, sonic reimagining, and archival recontextualizing, this exhibition envisions a blackout of fossil power across the territories affected by the legacies of Gulf Oil Corporation. This exhibition illustrates the ways in which the planet’s surface, depths, and biosphere have been depleted for the extraction of financial value. Imani maps out the intertwined ways in which the production of oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico is part of an expansive politico-economic, socio-technological, and cosmological system.This work intricately ties the celestial with the geological, emphasizing the manifold ways in which fossil capitalism perpetuates epistemic, ecological, and economic violence, but also creates the impetus for the formation of fractal solidarity networks among peoples, places, and species branching from Louisiana to Angola to Palestine.

 

The exhibition presents a number of new experimental works, in progress research, and collaborations, beginning with a two-channel film that explores the origin story of the relationship between oil, land and water in the Gulf of Mexico and its consequences. Gulf reflects on the Chicxulub asteroid impact, which struck the Gulf 65 million years ago, contributing to the formation of the Gulf’s remarkable biodiversity, along with its vast hydrocarbon fields, and cementing the region’s destiny as both a cultural crossroads and an  extractive hub. She meticulously layers the gallery’s interior facade with mappings of Gulf Oil’s pipeline and well networks –  corporate follies imposed upon the Gulf of Mexico. At one end of the gallery, Imani animates and reinterprets core samples extracted to enhance corporate knowledge of petrogeographies. Additional core samples are presented as light boxes and contextualized through accompanying reports and other modes of knowledge production. Finally, she considers the notion of the strike as a mode of resistance and emergent futurity by time mapping the trajectory of offshore oil exploration – from Louisiana’s Gulf to Angola in the form of a double-arm spiral – the symbolic representation of a hurricane. Through it, the myriad tactics, strategies, and discourses that movements across the US have articulated in their struggle against Gulf Oil’s financing of the Portuguese imperial army and support of the Angolan and Palestinian liberation movements. This visualization illustrates modes of radical defiance against petro-capitalist systems of power, from whichl international solidarities between American, African, and Arab nations emerged.

 

The exhibition’s title, Gulf  (read “Strike Gulf”) is inspired by the power of strikes and other formations of solidarity to defend and tether lifeworlds. In this critical moment, the exhibition maps the persistent threat of extractivism, which spawns planetary crises from colonialism and slavery to the present climate crisis, and communicates the urgency of advocating  for corporate accountability and ecological reparations. This exhibition invites us to engage directly with the conflicts and solidarities that shape our interconnected worlds and yet orient us towards collective liberation.

 

About the Artist

Imani Jacqueline Brown is an artist, activist, writer, and architectural researcher from New Orleans, based in London. Her research is disseminated internationally through art installations, public actions, reports, and testimony delivered to courts and organs of the United Nations. Imani received her MA with distinction from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2019 and her BA in Anthropology and Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2010. Among other things, she is currently a doctoral candidate in the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, a research fellow with Forensic Architecture, and an associate lecturer in MA Architecture at the Royal College of Art.

 

Credits

This exhibition aspires to abstain from the use of materials derived from fossil fuels.

 

This exhibition is organized by the Storefront Team

Lead Curator: Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa

 

Collaborators: Tobechukwu Onwukeme, Mark Mushiva, Mohamad Safa, Les Cenelles

 

Special thanks from the artist to: Bruce SunPie Barnes, Frank Dexter Brown, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Adrian Lahoud, Godofredo Perreira, Tom Turnbull, Eyal Weizman, Jeanne M. Woods, The Rivers Institute, Amistad Research Center, and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

 

Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

 

Swamplands

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 by artists Imani Jacqueline Brown, Gala Porras-Kim, and Fred Schmidt-Arenales, 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.

 

Support

This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment of 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; 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.

IT IS A GOOD PROJECT AND SHOULD BE BUILT

Wednesday March 13, 2024 – Saturday June 1, 2024

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

 

IT IS A GOOD PROJECT AND SHOULD BE BUILT

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

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.

 

Credits

This exhibition is organized by the Storefront Team

Lead Curator: Jessica Kwok

 

Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

 

Support

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.

Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In

Saturday January 20, 2024 – Saturday February 17, 2024

Image: Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In by Red Canary Song, 2024. Courtesy of artists

 

Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In

Red Canary Song

 

Exhibition Dates
January  20th, 2024 – February 17th, 2024

 

 

Building on their exploration of intimate bodywork spaces as hubs of collective activism, Red Canary Song (RCS) utilizes Storefront’s gallery to engage both the migrant massage workers in Flushing, Queens and Chinatown, Manhattan. For RCS, the massage parlor is a home, a sanctuary, and stage of resistance for decriminalization and migrant justice. 

 

Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In delves into entangled practices of placemaking while navigating issues of commercialism and fetishization, domestic violence and survival. The gallery is presented as a space of work and domesticity, as it is often experienced by the migrant massage worker. This portrayal reflects both the policing and surveillance directed specifically at migrant Asian women, as well as the collective grieving and reciprocal care within the community. The spatial progression from the sidewalk to the inner quarter of massage chambers, registered by interior ornaments and architectural thresholds, embodies the transpositional existence of the migrant workers. 

 

The exhibition’s centerpiece is a newly released feature-length documentary by RCS titled Fly in Power, which narrates the collective actions taken by the collective in confronting contradictions of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism against racialized working women, in the form of law enforcement, urban policies, and social segregation. Throughout the exhibition’s duration, the gallery will serve as a hub for convening, organizing, celebrating, and fostering mutual relationships within the broader RCS community. The exhibition sets up an opportunity to forge new connections across boroughs. 

 

Forefronting mutual aid as the foundation of abolitionist frameworks, Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In re-orientates the engagement of informal labor economies as unbound and emancipatory. 

 

About the Artist

Image: Red Canary Song, 2023. Photo by PJ Rountree

 

 

RED CANARY SONG is a collective of migrant massage workers, sex workers, and allies of the Asian diaspora, based in Flushing, Queens. Their work centers on mutual aid, community care, decriminalization of sex work, and abolition of the prison industrial complex. RCS was formed in 2018 at a vigil for Yang Song, a Chinese migrant massage worker who fell to her death from a four story window during a police raid. 

 

Red Canary Song: Charlotte, Chong, David, Esther, Elena, Eunbi, Edward, Fran, Lisa, Linn, Layla, Mei Mei, Tommy, Wu, Xen, Yves, Yeonhoo, Yoon,Yin

Curatorial Team: Chong Gu & Yin Q

 

This exhibition is organized by the Storefront Team

Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

 

On the Ground

Flower Spa by Red Canary Song is the result of an open call for proposals connected to On the Ground, a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023 and early 2024. The project unfolds through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader.

 

Storefront would like to thank frieze Magazine for their partnership in this project, as well as the jury that selected the winning proposal composed of Naomi Beckwith, Tom Finkelpearl, Danielle A. Jackson, Sohrab Mohebbi, Manuela Moscoso, and Felicity D. Scott. 

 

Support  

This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as 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; 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. 

 

What Black Is This, You Say?

Wednesday May 12, 2021 – Friday June 30, 2023

A Public Artwork by Amanda Williams


Photo by: Michael Oliver

 

What Black Is This, You Say? 

A Public Artwork by Amanda Williams

May 2021 – June 2023

 

#whatblackisthis    #awstudioart     @storefrontnyc 

 

What Black Is This, You Say? is a public artwork created by artist and architect Amanda Williams for Storefront’s facade. This multi year project translates to the physical realm, a body of work initiated by the artist on Instagram. 

 

The project began as an informal response to #BlackoutTuesday, a social media protest campaign that invited the public to post black squares to their feeds. This “blackout” of communication on June 2nd, 2020 was intended to be a show of solidarity with Black lives and the calls for justice in response to the murder of George Floyd and many others before him. 

 

“I’ll be honest. I wasn’t feeling the blackout. I hate stuff like that, but I caved. Wanted to be in solidarity. But color is everything to me. You can’t just say “black”…which one?” –Amanda Williams

 

Drawing upon her past work exploring color theory, Williams sought to bring attention to the plurality, complexity, and nuance of Black experience(s). Over the following five months, in order to challenge the black square as a monolithic representation, she posted 120+ shades or textures on Instagram – each with a corresponding caption. Together, they provided a rich palette of overlapping and divergent narratives and histories that inform Black identity. 

 

At Storefront, Williams presents a public artwork that more deeply explores these shades. During the first year, twelve of these were painted on each one of the moving panels of the gallery’s facade, serving as hinges between the public realm and the gallery interior. In its second iteration for the season 2022-2022, five new shades are introduced. What Black Is This, You Say? constitutes a transformation of Storefront’s facade, which all exhibitions during its run navigate and build upon in various ways.


Alongside this, Storefront will release a publication with writings, reflections, and interviews, related to the work. Together, these discussions and contributions from cultural thinkers such as Roxane Gay, J Wortham and Corrine Bailey Rae, among others, interrogate and contextualize commonly held narratives around Black culture, joy, spirituality, suffering, agency, labor, and more.

 

About the Artist

Amanda Williams is a visual artist who trained as an architect. Her creative practice employs color as a way to draw attention to the complexities of how race shapes the ways in which we assign value to space in cities. The landscapes in which she operates are the visual residue of the invisible policies and forces that have misshapen most major US cities. Williams’ installations, paintings, and works on paper seek to inspire new ways of looking at the familiar, and in the process, raise questions about the state of urban space and ownership in America.

 

Amanda has exhibited widely, including the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, a solo exhibition at the MCA Chicago, and a public project with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. She is a 2018 USA Ford Fellow, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors grantee, an Efroymson Family Arts Fellow, a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a member of the multidisciplinary Museum Design team for the Obama Presidential Center. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. Williams lives and works in Chicago.

 

In the spring and summer of 2021, Williams presented three bodies of work at New York City organizations. In addition to this public artwork at Storefront, they included two projects organized by The Museum of Modern Art: Embodied Sensations, a participatory artwork that considers the transformation of public space during the global pandemic, and Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, MoMA’s first ever exhibition to explore the ongoing impact of anti-black racism on the shaping of architecture and the built environment. 

 

Amanda Williams was selected as a 2022 MacArthur Fellow.

 

Groundworks

Groundworks invites one artist to present a public artwork on Storefront’s iconic facade, that will be on display for the duration of a year. Launching with What Black Is This You Say? by Amanda Williams in 2021, this series of annual commissions engage the gallery’s exterior wall with the sidewalk passerby. This initiative locates Storefront’s facade as a site of critical discourse to weave together notions of place and identity, using the built environment to foster understanding around complex ideas of public life. Each artists’ commission celebrates community, and the history and politics inextricably connected to the building of cultural identity within a specific time and context. 

 

Credits

What Black Is This,  You Say? A Public Artwork by Amanda Williams

Graphic design by poly-mode. Organized by Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2021.

 

aw|studio:

Amanda Williams / Artist

Bianca Marks / Communications and Strategy

 

Polymode:

Silas Munro / Partner

Brian Johnson /  Partner

Randa Hadi / Designer

Michelle Lamb /  Designer

 

Storefront Team:

José Esparza Chong Cuy / Executive Director and Chief Curator

Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa / Curator of Programs and Public Affairs

Camille Bacon / Project Coordinator

Eduardo Meneses / Environments and Production Manager

Jessica Kwok / Assistant Curator

Andrea Molina Cuadro / Gallery and Exhibitions Fellow

Maya Whites / Gallery and Community Engagement Fellow

Jennifer Cohen / Finance Manager

 

Support

What Black Is This, You Say?  has been made possible through the support of the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the New York State Council of 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; The Storefront Circle and Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.

Under My Feet

Saturday October 7, 2023 – Saturday December 16, 2023

Image: Detail of Under My Feet, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

 

Under My Feet

Ilana Harris-Babou

 

Exhibition Dates:
October 7th, 2023 – December 16th, 2023

 

Gallery Hours:

Wednesdays – Saturdays, 12-6 pm

 

Under My Feet by artist Ilana Harris-Babou delves into her childhood memories, reimagining and reinventing the playful rituals of her Central Brooklyn upbringing. In this exhibition, she meticulously layers and transforms the sounds, colors, and textures of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush, and Crown Heights—neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and West Indian immigrants. Through this creative process, Harris-Babou revisits and reconstructs her sense of home and belonging, engaging with themes of intimacy, witness, dispossession, and the possibilities for the sidewalks and storefronts of Nostrand Avenue, Church Avenue, and Flatbush Avenue.

 

Through a blend of sound, imagery, and video, Harris-Babou stages a vivid representation of her childhood neighborhood, bringing to light diverse notions of place hidden in plain sight. This immersive installation presents itself as a nostalgic journey to her youth—skipping over sidewalk cracks, perching on cellar gates beneath bodegas, and pondering the vibrancy of its towering signs. 

 

Harris-Babou layers the interior with an expansive streetscape, using the gallery as a place to celebrate intergenerational businesses and retail spaces that have served as hubs for liberatory pedagogies within Afro-diasporic communities. A new video pays homage to Lenore Briggs and the Lefferts Gardens Montessori, where Black children were encouraged to shape their own sense of purpose and affirm their individuality within their community. On the opposite end of the gallery, she recreates the protective havens provided by neighborhood institutions like the African Record Centre, offering a glimpse into the resources they have accumulated over the years and inviting audiences to choreograph their own worldbuilding experience through contemplation and curiosity.

 

Under My Feet recognizes and reconnects with a vanishing landscape of self-determination in the face of gentrification and displacement, while claiming a future rooted in its enduring legacy.

 

 

About the Artist

Ilana Harris-Babou. Photo: PJ Roundtree.

 

Ilana Harris-Babou (b. 1991, Brooklyn, New York) has presented solo exhibitions of her work at The Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University (2023); Artspace New Haven (2022); Kunsthaus Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (2021); Goucher College, Baltimore, MD (2021); Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2020); and The Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY (2017).

She has participated in major exhibitions including the Istanbul Design Biennial, Turkey (2020); and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2019), and group exhibitions at The Wellcome Collection, London, UK (2023); California College of the Arts Wattis Institute, San Francisco, CA (2021); The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2021); and Queens Museum, Queens, NY (2020). She lives and works in Brooklyn and Middletown, CT.

 

On the Ground
On the Ground is a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader. 

 

Credits
Under My Feet by Ilana Harris-Babou. Organized by the Storefront Team.
Graphic design by Estudio Herrera 

Photography by PJ Rountree

 

Support
This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as 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; 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, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and the Jay DeFeo Foundation.

 

 

Direct Action

Saturday June 17, 2023 – Saturday September 9, 2023

by Francisca Benítez

Broad Street, East Broadway, Market Street, New York, 2023, consecutive floor rubbings with graphite on a piece of paper, 22.75” x 29.75”

 

Direct Action

Francisca Benítez

 

Exhibition Dates:
June 17th, 2023 – September 9th, 2023

 

#DirectAction #franciscabenitez @storefrontnyc 

 

We put our bodies on the streets 

our bodies in the trees 

our bodies against the fences of a chemical plant 

our bodies inside banks 

our bodies in the forest 

our bodies against the pavement 

 

we harmonize 

we dissonate 

we become one sonic body 

we spread 

we vanish 

we reappear 

in crescendo through tunnels 

caves, theaters, jail cells 

we become everybody 

and one with the buzzing of the honeybees 

 

— Francisca Benítez

 

Accessible public space can only exist if it is collectively created, used, exercised, and cared for. Dissent and meaningful dialogue are forms of expression that uncover its political possibilities. Direct Action by Francisca Benítez explores the many ways in which the artist and activist grapples with the ethics of protest and her sustained commitment to solidarity through collective action.

 

By putting her creative body on the line, Benítez uses direct action as a method. In the words of the late anthropologist and activist David Graeber, she embodies the practice of direct action by her insistence in engaging the city freely when faced with structurally oppressive urban environments. Her expansive work is both a product and a stage of the rituals of resistance that result from her long-term involvement with activist groups rooted in Lower Manhattan. Whether it’s organizing against displacement, fighting for housing, standing up to developers, or singing about climate futures, her work imagines and engenders a society beyond capitalism.

 

Rubbings hung on the wall are part of Benítez’s growing catalog on the many ways in which the ground floor of the city is both host and platform to diverse forms of protest and collective dissent. A sculpture consisting of the artist’s old bicycle seat includes a branch used in a performance protest at the East River Park. A metronome made from a piece of New York City streetscape serves as a reminder of the urgency of the work that Benítez undertakes in her melded life and art practice. A consistent tool in Benítez’s work is her voice—an instrument used to harmonize, to unionize, to crescendo. Whether it’s uttered or gesturally performed, Benítez understands her voice as a tool for collective action, and music as her ultimate form of sociability. 

 

Direct Action showcases the processes and procedures of her artistic practice, which is centered in the use of performance as a method to engage the politics of space and her participation in political and community action. Her involvement with various activist organizations such as The Stop Shopping Choir, Art Against Displacement, Chinatown Working Group, Coalition to Protect Chinatown & The Lower East Side, East River Park Action, and Asamblea Popular de Chile en Nueva York, are crucial aspects of her practice. With her artistic work operating as both backdrop and instigator, Benitez uses Storefront as a productive space to strengthen existing collaborations and forge new ones. 

 

Throughout the run of the exhibition, the gallery will operate as a meeting room, a rehearsal studio, a writing workshop, and an urban stage. By opening up the space of the institution to the many activist groups she is an integral part of, Benítez transforms Storefront into a site for social intervention. Direct Action invites the audience to consider the possibilities of protest, and encourage participation in local collective organizing efforts.

 

Earth Chxrch at 36 Loisaida Avenue and East 3rd Street. Photo by Francisca Benítez

 

 

About the Artist


Francisca Benítez. Photo: PJ Roundtree.

 

Francisca Benítez is an artist born in Chile in 1974, living and working in New York since 1998. Her art practice explores relations between space, politics, and language, being closely linked to the places where she lives and the communities she interacts with. Her videos, photographs, performances, and drawings are shown internationally. Recent exhibitions include: Riego at Die Ecke, Santiago; In Support at The Kitchen, New York; New/Now at the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; Uprisings at the Jeu de Paume, Paris; Much wider than a line at SITE Santa Fe, NM. She graduated as an architect from Universidad de Chile (1998) and Master in Fine Arts from Hunter College of the City University of New York (2007). She is an alto singer in the Stop Shopping Choir, an anti-capitalist direct action performance group based in New York City.

 

Scheduled Exhibition Events:


Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir for opening night of Direct Action. Photo by PJ Rountree

 

June 17, 6pm: Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir

June 29, 5pm – 7pm: Performance by Leila Adu with Savitri D.

July 6, 5-7pm: Performance by Leila Adu with Kwami Coleman and Erich Barganier

July 7, 2:30-4pm: Art Against Displacement zine-making party

July 11, 6:30pm: Art Against Displacement monthly meeting

July 15, 5-7pm: Performance by Ali Dineen

July 29, 4-6pm: Performance by Raimundo

August 3, 1pm: Performance by Ray Santiago

August 8, 6:30pm: Art Against Displacement monthly meeting

August 12, 5-7pm: Performance by Cecilia Vicuña and Ricardo Gallo

August 19, 4-6pm: Performance by Eduardo Pavez Goye

August 26, 5-7pm: Performance by Ricardo Gallo and Amirtha Kidambi

September 1, 5pm: Performance by Sunder Ganglani

September 2, 2pm: Performance by Gregory Corbino

September 8, 7-8pm: Film Program

September 9, 6pm: Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir

 

On the Ground
Direct Action is presented as part of On the Ground, a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader. 

 

Credits
Direct Action by Francisca Benítez. Organized by the Storefront Team. Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

Photography by PJ Rountree

 

Support
This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as 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; 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, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and the Jay DeFeo Foundation.

New Land Plaza: You Can’t Beat a New York Original

Wednesday March 1, 2023 – Saturday May 27, 2023

by Canal Street Research Association

make money and good luck!, 2023. Photo: Canal Street Research Association

 

New Land Plaza: You Can’t Beat a New York Original

Canal Street Research Association

 

Speculative research on the shifting landscapes of Canal Street,  featuring works by Ming Fay

 

Exhibition Dates:
March 1st, 2023 – May 27th, 2023

 

#NewLandPlaza @canal_street_research @mingfaystudio @storefrontnyc 

 

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, we are going to shut you down.” 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during the “Counterfeit Triangle” raid press conference

February, 2008

 

New Land Plaza: You Can’t Beat a New York Original looks at the spatial effects of the criminalization of informal markets and the contemporary repercussions this has on sidewalks and across the facades of Lower Manhattan. Over the course of the exhibit, Canal Street Research Association will attempt to “bootleg” a historic Canal Street counterfeit bust, by tracing the bust’s historical antecedents in order to understand current-day conditions. Anchored in Ming Fay’s seminal Monumental Fruit public artwork honoring street vendors, the archival and speculative research for this re-staging takes various modes: resurfacing of Fay’s proposals and artworks, creating a modular display system in collaboration with architectural collective common room, and pursuing an active intervention on Storefront’s facade. Canal Street Research Association is currently offering Storefront as ad space to mimic the increasingly frequent Lower Manhattan phenomenon that prioritizes buildings as billboards. This gesture attempts to invert the typical flow of corporate funding by redistributing any resources accrued through this experiment to support on the ground advertisers for luxury fashion houses: shanzhai luxury vendors themselves. 
 
Canal Street has long been the epicenter of counterfeit goods in New York City—a thoroughfare cutting through historically immigrant neighborhoods that has become a destination where tourists, as well as New Yorkers, engage with a unique economy. For some time, this confluence of global trade routes has been made possible by a clandestine setup: ground-floor storefronts that operated as NYC souvenir shops up front, but held secret compartments for bootleg luxury merchandise in the back. This slippery meeting of legitimate and illegitimate, real and fake, has been a guiding line of inquiry for Canal Street Research Association, a fictional office entity set up by poetic research unit Shanzhai Lyric in 2020. “Shanzhai” is a Chinese neologism that has come to mean bootleg or fake. The concept of shanzhai offers a different mode of thinking about authorship, unsettling understandings of property, theft, and the traditional flow of economic exchange. Canal Street is one site where the embrace of shanzhai concepts has enabled informal modes of commerce to survive within an increasingly hostile environment. Canal Street Research Association employs the bootleg as a method of re-staging, and therefore more closely examining, complex urban phenomena that may be overlooked due to their unofficial or illicit nature.

 

About the Artists

 

Canal Street Research Association at New Land Plaza. Photo: PJ Rountree

 

Canal Street Research Association was founded in 2020 in an empty storefront on Canal Street, New York’s counterfeit epicenter. Delving into the cultural and material ecologies of the street and its long history as a site that probes the limits of ownership and authorship, the association repurposes underused real estate as spaces for gathering ephemeral histories, mapping local lore, and tracing the flows and fissures of capital. They have occupied storefronts, empty office buildings, and storage units—and are currently located in a basement under Canal Street.

 

The fictional office entity is operated by Shanzhai Lyric (Ming Lin and Alex Tatarsky), a poetic research and roving archival unit that take inspiration from 山寨 (shanzhai or counterfeit) goods to examine how bootlegs use mimicry, hybridity, and permutation to both revel in and reveal the artifice of global hierarchies.

 

Ming Fay, Monumental Fruit (sketch) from Public Art in Chinatown (Asian American Arts Centre, 1988)

 

Ming Fay is a New York City-based sculptor celebrated for his large-scale, life-like sculptural renditions of plants, fruits, trees, and other organic forms.Fay has exhibited internationally and has been commissioned by numerous cities to create large-scale public sculptures.

 

Born in Shanghai in 1943, Ming Fay grew up in Hong Kong, moving to the United States in 1961 to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design. He received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

 

On the Ground

New Land Plaza: You Can’t Beat a New York Original is presented as part of On the Ground, a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader. 

 

Credits

New Land Plaza: You Can’t Beat a New York Original by Canal Street Research Association. Organized by the Storefront Team. Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

 

Storefront for Art and Architecture Team:

José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director and Chief Curator

Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, Curator of Programs and Public Affairs

Jessica Kwok, Assistant Curator

Eduardo Meneses, Environments and Production Manager

Andrea Molina Cuadro, Gallery and Exhibitions Fellow

Maya Whites, Gallery and Community Engagement Fellow

 

Support
Storefront’s On the Ground program is made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as 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; the Storefront Circle and Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.

Public Space In A Private Time

Saturday September 17, 2022 – Saturday December 10, 2022

 

Public Space In A Private Time: Building Storefront for Art and Architecture
97 Kenmare Street, New York, NY

 

Exhibition Opening:
Saturday, September 17th from 4–6 pm [RSVP]

 

Gallery Hours:
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 12-6 pm
September 17th–December 10th, 2022

 

#publicspaceinaprivatetime   @storefrontnyc  

 

The establishment of certain spaces in the city as “public” is a reminder, a warning, that the rest of the city isn’t public.
— Vito Acconci, 1990

 

On the occasion of the gallery’s 40th anniversary, Public Space in a Private Time: Building Storefront for Art and Architecture connects our focus on the built environment with New York City’s social and political challenges at the time of its founding in 1982. Through a close reading of early shows and projects, the exhibition showcases the leading role Storefront has played in the defense of public space through artistic practice.

 

Using our own archive as its main resource, Public Space in a Private Time foregrounds Storefront’s early preoccupation with the dominance of private interests in the public sphere, as well as with the accelerated pace of urban development, gentrification, and displacement. All these issues were of deep concern in New York City during those years, and continue, urgently, to require attention today—both here and around the world.

 

Taking its title from an essay presented at Storefront in 1990 by artist Vito Acconci, the exhibition highlights the role this organization has long played in positioning art and architecture at the center of public life. It focuses on key exhibitions, competitions, and open calls that have been instrumental in the shaping of Storefront’s ethos, and includes a section about the making of the iconic facade by Acconci and architect Steven Holl from 1993, which continues to embody our mission as an enduring public artwork in Lower Manhattan.

 

The exhibition Public Space in a Private Time is presented as part of Storefront’s 40th anniversary and will be accompanied by a series of events that examine moments of resistance against the erasure of civic space in New York City.

 

Credits

 

Public Space in a Private Time: Building Storefront for Art and Architecture is part of an anniversary initiative that studies the organization’s early history to inform future programs. The exhibition is collectively organized by Storefront’s staff with artist and board member Justin Beal. Graphic design by Pentagram.

 

Storefront for Art and Architecture Team:

José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director and Chief Curator

Jessica Kwok, Curatorial Fellow

Eduardo Meneses, Gallery and Operations Manager

Andrea Molina Cuadro, Gallery and Exhibitions Fellow

Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, Curator of Programs and Public Affairs

 

Support

 

Storefront’s 40th Anniversary program has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as 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; the Storefront Circle and Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.

 

      

The Absolute Restoration of All Things

Friday April 8, 2022 – Saturday July 30, 2022

By Miguel Fernández de Castro & Natalia Mendoza

 

 

The Absolute Restoration of All Things
By Miguel Fernández de Castro & Natalia Mendoza
97 Kenmare Street, New York, NY

 

Exhibition Opening:
Friday, April 8th from 6:30–8:30 pm [RSVP]

 

Gallery Hours:
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 12-6 pm
April 8th–July 30th, 2022

 

#absoluterestoration  @miguelfernandezdecastro  @mendozarockwell   @storefrontnyc  

 

In the middle of the vast Sonoran desert in the northwest of Mexico, a sculpture sits within the deep pit of a decommissioned gold mine. Made on-site with soil from the pit, the sculpture is shaped as a perfect cube. Beside it sits a silver plaque that reads:

 

Between 2010 and 2013, the Penmont Mining company illegally extracted 236,709 ounces of gold, according to its own reports. To do this, they blew up and moved 10,833,527 tons of stone. 

 

The decision of the Unitary Agrarian Court of the 28th District, issued on December 8th, 2014, obliges Penmont to return the extracted gold, which would take the shape of a 70 x 70 x 70 centimeter cube and would have a value of 436 million dollars. 

Ejido El Bao

February 2022

 

The contrast in scales between the small volume of the sculpture in relation to the massive open pit clearly showcases the environmental damage caused by the mining industry. This sculpture and its accompanying plaque function as an anti-monument to the site’s dispossession. They are part of the exhibition The Absolute Restoration of All Things by artist Miguel Fernández de Castro and anthropologist Natalia Mendoza at Storefront for Art and Architecture. 

 

For the last five years, Fernández de Castro and Mendoza—who are based in the Sonoran Desert—have been researching the 2014 court case that shut down Penmont’s mining operations. The lawsuit was brought to court by the “ejidatarios” (communal land holders) of the mining site, who claimed that their territory was illegally occupied and exploited, causing an irrevocable environmental impact on their land. In addition to the return of the extracted gold, the court ruled that Penmont Mining is “obliged to fully restore the ecosystem that prevailed in this place, with its hills, mountains, waters, air, flora, and fauna that existed before.” Not only has Penmont Mining not complied with the court ruling, but the ejidatarios continue to suffer from arbitrary imprisonment, harassment, and forced disappearance in a context of intertwined state and criminal violence. 

 

The Absolute Restoration of All Things departs from the impossibility of this historic legal verdict to explore the issue of land rights and the limits of the legal language that protects it. 

 

The exhibition at Storefront presents newly commissioned works by Fernández de Castro and Mendoza that unpack the court case, including a film, diagrams, a photo mural, and objects from the mine. The formwork used to create the rammed earth sculpture inside the open pit is also included, allowing the viewer to grasp the scale and connect the two sites. Together, these works present a panoramic picture of the expansive devastation caused by the mining industry, alongside the unattainable legal verdict that aims to restore this particular part of the Sonoran Desert.

 

RSVP for the public opening here.

 

About the Artist

Miguel Fernández de Castro (b. 1986, Sonora, Mexico) is a visual artist based in the Sonora-Arizona borderlands. Through photography, video, sculpture, and writing, his work examines how extractive and criminal economies materially transform a territory while looking at the historical ties between environmental catastrophe, smuggling routes, and forced disappearance. In Mexico, his work has been shown at Museo Jumex, Casa del Lago, and Museo de Arte Moderno. Internationally he’s presented work at Frac Centre-Val de Loire (France), Spazio Veda (Italy), Wren Library (UK), Museo Artium (Spain), Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon), among others. His film Grammar of Gates was selected by Ballroom Marfa to be for the Artists’ Film International program at Whitechapel Gallery in London. Since 2018 he has collaborated with multiple search groups documenting mass graves on both sides of the Mexico-US border.

 

​​Natalia Mendoza, (b. 1981, Mexico City, Mexico) is a researcher and essayist based between New York and Sonora, Mexico. She obtained a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University and joined Fordham University as an assistant professor. She has conducted extensive ethnographic research in the region of Sonora-Arizona. Her work examines the convergence of legal and illegal economies, and the overlaps between state and criminal violence in the US-Mexico borderlands. In 2020, Natalia Mendoza won the “José Revueltas-INBA National Essay Award” for her collection of essays on disappearance, funerary rituals, and political imagination.

 

Building Cycles

The Absolute Restoration of All Things is presented as part of Building Cycles, Storefront’s ongoing curatorial program that examines building as both a place and a process. The Absolute Restoration of All Things follows five exhibitions in the cycle, Aquí­ vive gente, Ministry for All,  Arabesque, and Something Broke, and The Great Ruins of Saturn.

 

 

Credits

The Absolute Restoration of All Things by Miguel Fernández de Castro & Natalia Mendoza.  Graphic design by Estudio Herrera. Organized by Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2022.

 

Storefront for Art and Architecture Team:

José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director and Chief Curator

Jinny Khanduja, Deputy Director

Eduardo Meneses, Gallery and Operations Manager

 

Support

The Absolute Restoration of All Things is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and Fundación Jumex. The opening is supported by Los Mariscos and Mal Mezcal.

 

Building Cycles has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, as well as from DS+R; KPF; Steven Holl Architects; 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 by Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.

 

   

   

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The Great Ruins of Saturn

Saturday December 4, 2021 – Saturday February 26, 2022

By Alvaro Urbano

 
 
 
The Great Ruins of Saturn
By Alvaro Urbano
97 Kenmare Street, New York, NY

 

Exhibition Opening:
Saturday, December 4th from 5-7 pm [RSVP]
Please note that the public opening is free and all are welcome to attend. Proof of vaccination will be required to enter the gallery space.

 

Gallery Hours:
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 12-6 pm
December 8th, 2021 – February 26th, 2022
(Closed December 23rd – January 1st)

 

#greatruinsofsaturn     @alvaro_urbano     @storefrontnyc   

 

“There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow and it’s just a dream away!”
Song lyrics for the Carousel of Progress (1964)
by Richard & Robert Sherman, commissioned by Walt Disney

 

“Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” stated the dedication of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park – once a sprawling ash dump in the heart of the borough of Queens.

 

The 650-acre fair site was populated by hundreds of temporary structures and attended by 51 million people. Amidst all the attractions, the colossal New York State Pavilion, with its space age design and its boasting rights as the largest and tallest pavilion at the fair, embodied the spectacle of “man’s achievements” (or of those by certain men, such as Governor Nelson Rockefeller, World’s Fair President Robert Moses, and pavilion architect Philip Johnson).

 

57 years later, this once colorful symbol that sought to project the ultimate vision of progress, optimism, and power lies largely dormant. Its concrete vestige now casts shadows upon its surroundings…and its original vision. While other structures from the fair have been repurposed, rehabilitated, and moved to various sites, the New York State Pavilion, with its central structure known as the Tent of Tomorrow, still awaits its grand departure.

 

The Great Ruins of Saturn by artist Alvaro Urbano speculates upon its unknown future. Through the technique of shadow puppetry, Urbano presents a film and an installation that playfully and satirically resurface stories from the Tent of Tomorrow and its politically and socially charged past. Urbano’s work situates the neglected pavilion in a theater occupied by a cast of inanimate characters, bringing them to life in order to question both obsolete and contemporary notions of growth and development.

 

Untethered from its original site, the building relinquishes the bright lights of achievement and instead seeks an otherworldly ending. In the process, it escapes the shadows formed by the still-thriving promises of a techno-capitalist future.

 

RSVP for the public opening here.

 

About the Artist

Alvaro Urbano (b. 1983, Madrid, Spain) is a visual artist based in Berlin. He studied at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Madrid (ETSAM) and the Institut für Raumexperimente of the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He is currently a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Urbano’s practice embraces a variety of media, from performance to spatial installations that unfold throughout an experimental process. Often using architecture, theatre, and heterotopia as points of departure, his work invites dialogue in newly conceived environments – exposing conflicts between reality and fiction that redefine and render time-space based situations. Recently, his work has explored and researched the futures of abandoned and vacant World’s Fair pavilions, as in his 2020 show The Awakening at La Casa Encendida (Madrid), which animated the 1958 Spanish Pavilion in Brussels. The Great Ruins of Saturn is Urbano’s first solo exhibition in the U.S.

 

Building Cycles

The Great Ruins of Saturn is presented as part of Building Cycles, Storefront’s ongoing curatorial program that examines building as both a place and a process. The Great Ruins of Saturn follows four exhibitions in the cycle, Aquí­ vive gente, Ministry for All,  Arabesque, and Something Broke.

 

 

Credits

The Great Ruins of Saturn by Alvaro Urbano. Graphic design by Estudio Herrera. Organized by Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2021.

 

Film Credits:
Artist: Alvaro Urbano
Puppeteers and Scenography: Victor Ame Navarro, Yao Liao, Luli Pérez, and Elena Peters
Music: Coeval
Editing: Joji Koyama
Graphic Design: Estudio Herrera
Commissioned by: Storefront for Art and Architecture with the collaboration of Acción Cultural Española, AC/E

 

Storefront for Art and Architecture Team:

José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director & Chief Curator

Jinny Khanduja, Deputy Director

Eduardo Meneses, Gallery and Operations Manager

 

Support

The Great Ruins of Saturn is presented in collaboration with Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), as well as with the support of Silman, ChertLüdde, Travesía Cuatro, and Sotheby’s. Lighting design is supported by L’Observatoire International, with contributions from Lutron / KETRA, Lumenture, and O’Blaney Rinker Associates.

 

Building Cycles has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, as well as from DS+R; KPF; Steven Holl Architects; 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 by Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.

 

          

 

           

 

                       

 

 

             

 

 

         

 

 

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