AiOP’s ninth annual public art and performance festival will take place October 11-20, 2013 along 14th Street from Avenue C to the Hudson River in NYC. This year’s theme is NUMBER.
A Note from the Curator
Numbers are shape shifters. Disciplined yet volatile, precise yet electric, singular yet collective, iconic yet generic, transparent yet slippery, cool yet momentous, restrictive yet buoyant. Transforming continually, they populate our daily life, clicking, ticking, cajoling, chastising, pressing and promising. From bank balances to checks and balances, votes to foreclosures, inflation to recession, pin numbers to alien registration numbers, rush hour to happy hour, statistics to demographics, lotteries to lucky numbers, dates to duties, they demand our continual attention, molding the experience of our everyday.
How can artists respond to the numerologies of our time? In proposing Number as the theme for Art in Odd Places this year, I invited artists to transform this seemingly bloodless technology of representation into an active zone of experience. AiOP’s own embedded numerical reference played no small part here: its invitation to scout the urban landscape not only for the quirky, unexpected or weird but also for the thrill in the extra, the leftover, the incomplete, the odd.
The 30 odd artists in this year’s edition explore the restrictions and buoyancies in the everyday performance of numbers in our lives. Some use numbers to map entirely new itineraries on the street: Jeff Kasper and Sophie Cooke explore the technologies of measurement and cartography that have brought into being city we live in, using maps and collages to layer a story of flood lines and human expansion; Pedro Gomez-Egaña uses an old Chinese mechanism of directionality as a tool for landscape drawing on an intimate scale; and EcoArtTech’s Companion Species app follows the nose of a canine companion on an urban wilderness hike of 14th Street. Artists use the 14th Street’s own numbers to surprise us into history and reverie: converting streets addresses to binary code in brilliant pink, Faith Holland makes visible the daily one-zero rhythm of the digital technologies that surround us; AE Souzis turns our ubiquitous texting into an interactive tour of the street; Shannon Novak draws on his own synaesthetic aptitude to transform the street into visual music; Samwell Freeman and Julia Vallera waylay the observant yet wool-gathering pedestrian waiting at a cross-walk with a set of poetic riddles on 14; and Colin MacFadyen reflects the humdrum routines of the street back on itself on the M14 bus.
Artists use numbers to ask hard questions: Paula Hunter and the young performers of JUMP! use zero to probe the gender biases of our world; Go! Push Pops interrogate the figures of military rape in a processional performance of testimony; Vicky Virgin tests our assumptions about the city through a playful demographic performance; JC Lenochan and his student performers trade Manhattan in for a pile of pennies in an evocation of the original transaction in bad faith; and JD McGuire’s hand-painted advertisements for Wallart expose the links between big box retail, cheap labor and low prices. Others use numbers to carve out a mythic moment in the mundane: Merav Ezer takes up New York’s eternal preoccupation with real estate to trace the private space of her tiny Brooklyn apartment, inviting visitors to traipse through; Susan Begy and Sasha Sumner invigorate the ground beneath with the happy equations of childhood hopscotch; and Samantha Holmes transforms the ceiling of the ever-present scaffolding and construction shed into a contemplative mosaic.
Numbers are characters in the work of several artists: the Institute for Sociometry invite participants to embody the oppositional meanings of significant numbers; Rory Golden enlists pedestrians in the madcap adventures of a human cannonball; and Ariela Kader turns trash into tableaux vivant. The telephone engages memory and gossip in the work of LuLu LoLo who, as Operator Loretta, will dial a call to connect you to your past and in Tracee Worley’s invitation to air (and listen) to your dirty laundry. Other artists explore gestures of poignant and subtle abjection: crawling on the street, Adam Frelin turns the common chewing gum dot into little figurines; and Karen Elaine Spencer treads a groove up and down 14th Street bearing a sandwich board asking ‘how much is too much?’
Tugging at the strings of hope and luck are numbers such as the lottery tickets that Jody Servon will give away in return for your expressed desires; the hour and minute hands of Toisha Tucker’s clocks that provide a moment of lucky serendipity; in SeeMeTellMe’s gifts of small winking packages of surprise, chance and hope; and in Gretchen Vitamvas’s Rockettes routine, multiplied by mirrors, which sets the stage for infinite possibility. Then there are the numbers of collectivities: Ani Taj and the Dance Cartel use primary movements as the motivation to gather a public to let loose in communal performance; Concerned New Yorkers stimulate an exchange on the “hot button issues” that face our city: and the trio of Tatlo, with their own absurdist methods of collection, archive the daily thoughts that accompany the daily tramp of daily life on 14th Street.
As these artists excavate the meaning, mobility and malleability of our daily numbers – their growth, concentration, spiraling, fluctuations, tactility and repetitive resonance – they make visible the mundane and magical ways in which numbers link places, events and people. A word about AiOP itself in this regard: organized from end to end by volunteers, it is galvanized by the imagination of artists whose participation is also voluntary. Late night emails, skype or diner lunch meetings, division overtime, as Tatlo might say, are its stock-in-trade. This collaborative model has repudiated the measures of the transactional, which as numbers go, is no small feat.
It is probably no accident too that Number should be the exploratory theme for a festival rooted in New York with its own particular geographic attachment to enumeration. On Manhattan’s grid, for five years, Art in Odd Places has mined the particular quirks and crannies of the 14th Street thoroughfare to ensure that more odd places are never made even.
– Radhika Subramaniam
Art in Odd Places aims to stretch the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks in all disciplines outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas.
Art in Odd Places (AiOP) began as an action by a group of artists led by Ed Woodham to encourage local participation in the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, after moving back to New York City, he re imagined it as a response to the dwindling of public space and personal civil liberties – first in the Lower East Side and East Village, and since 2008, on 14th Street in Manhattan. AiOP has always been a grassroots project fueled by the goodwill and inventiveness of its participants.
Ed Woodham, Founder & Director
Sarah Brozna, Festival Producer
Radhika Subramaniam, Guest Curator
Claire Demere, Curatorial Assistant
Juliana Driever, Program Development
Jennifer Smith, Digital Content Editor
Carey Estes, Website Designer + Developer
Jorge Garcia, Program Guide Designer
Mathew Morowitz, Head Writer
John Critelli, Social Media Specialist
Evalynn Rosado, Social Media Specialist
Hjordis Linn-Blanford, Community Development
Jiyeon Paik, Program Coordinator
Check out some of the great happenings from previous years’ festivals!
New York City Housing Authority, Campos Plaza Community Center, 14th Street Y, Open House New York
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Leo Walsh Foundation
Ricci Albenda, Michael Allen, Anonymous, Scott Burland, LuLu LoLo, Wendy McKenna, Ursula Scherrer.
Participating artists, all of the artists who applied, all of the volunteers; Ukah Busgith, Millie Molina, and Christopher Shaffner (NYCHA); Moshe Schwartz (Campos Plaza Center Community), Becky Skoff and Ronit Muszkatblit (14th Street Y); Bonnie Stein and Vit Horejs at GOH Productions; Melissa Rachleff Burtt with Julia Lammer, Gisela Morales, Elizabeth P Prendiville at NYU Visual Arts Administration MA Program; NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Evalynn Rosado; our friends and family, and to you, our audience.
Art in Odd Places is a project of GOH Productions.
Bonnie Stein, Executive Director.