Articles

An Art Show for #OccupyWallStreet [UPDATED]

by Liza Eliano on October 5, 2011

On the 1oth anniversary of September 11, 2001, Loft in the Red Zone, an artistic tribute to 9/11, opened at the historic JP Morgan Building at 23 Wall Street in Manhattan’s Financial District. A week later the show was wrapped up in the middle of Occupy Wall Street as protesters, barricades and police invaded the area at the start of the occupation. Loft in the Red Zone is now joining the movement, hosting a pop-up exhibition entitled No Comment that is inspired by Occupy Wall Street and will showcase multimedia art by activists and artists in New York. Artists can send in submissions by Thursday, October 6 and those selected to participate will be notified by Friday. Participants can also put their work up for sale in a silent auction during the exhibition, which will open at the JP Morgan Building on Saturday, October 8 from 6 – 9 pm. On Sunday, removable walls with graffiti art will be walked out the front door of the gallery at the corner of Wall Street and Broad.

While No Comment professes to be in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, some people, particularly commenters on Occupy Wall Street’s website, are not happy with the show. One commenter, identified as rosebr99, had this to say:

I just do not understand this art show. You are acting like business as usual complete with submissions and prices – I thought this was a protest! And to make matters worse, it is being housed in the ‘historic JP Morgan bldg’ -Yuck! This sends a bad & selfish message to the 99%!

Rosebr99 has a point. Is a show that takes a more traditional and restrictive approach to an artist open call really in line with a movement that is all about equality and total inclusiveness? It’s also questionable as to why these works are being sold, especially in the name of a protest that is specifically against a unbridled capitalist system. Also, Occupy Wall Street has proven itself a self-sufficient movement that has proven successful at soliciting donations for specific project when they are required, such as for the Occupied Wall Street Journal. While “Loft in the Red Zone” is creating another forum for an artistic dialogue about the protests, is the show, seated in the JP Morgan building no less, as progressive as the movement it claims to support?

UPDATE: We elaborated on these questions in an earlier post after speaking with Loft in the Red Zone curator Marika Maiorova who stressed that due to the ongoing presence of police and barricades on Wall Street there are have been little to no visitors to the exhibition and no press coverage. Loft in the Red Zone started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to keep the exhibition open that is somewhat dismissive of the protest for cutting off access to their show.

In their Kickstarter video, curator Marika Maiorova states that:

As much as we are proud to be in the middle of creating new history, we are just an art exhibition, we do not belong to any political movement.

It initially appeared that Maiorova and Loft in the Red Zone was riding the wave of the movement in the hopes of getting more coverage of their 9/11 exhibition, leading us to believe the that group had faulty motives for aligning themselves with Occupy Wall Street. Yet after speaking with Alexandre Carvalho, one of the main organizers of the OWS Arts & Culture Committee, he assured us that Occupy Wall Street and Loft in the Red Zone are working in unison. They hope to be able to raise $5,000 by tomorrow to keep the space open and to allow Occupy Wall Street artists to use the second floor as a workshop. Carvalho noted, that “we desperately need money donations to keep the space open.” In response to arguments that the exhibition is being held in the JP Morgan Building, Carvalho also made it clear that the building is no longer affiliated or owned by the bank even though it retains the name for historical purposes.

Barricades and police blocking Wall Street due to the Occupy Wall Street protests (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

We visited Wall Street today in the hopes of checking out the exhibition space and found out first hand how difficult it is to get even close to where 23 Wall Street is located. The entire street is barricaded off with police standing at several checkpoints. When we were there, only people who could prove that they worked or lived in the area were allowed through. If you want to just see some art, forget about it.

No Comment opens to the public on Saturday, October 8 from 6 – 9 pm at the JP Morgan Building (23 Wall Street, across from the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall). Artist submissions are due by Thursday October 6, midnight.

Image caption: No Comment graphic from nocommentartshow.com

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  • Frank Shifreen

    After writing to me privately with what sounded like an apology, this article is still circulating on the Internet without any public response from you, I rebutted Ms. Elianos assertions in a letter
    and she admitted that her sources were questionable. This kind of innuendo is very hard to challenge. I am angry that she has not publicly admitted she was wrong

  • Liza Eliano

    Dear Frank,
    Nothing in the post is factually incorrect. I am quoting Ms. Maiorova and including my own opinions about the show based on speaking with her and what I saw in the Kickstarter campaign, which is my job as a critic. I did correct the post to reflect the fact that Occupy Wall Street is in full support of the collaboration and are working in unison with Loft in the Red Zone, which was not made clear until I spoke with Alex. I admit that I should have reached out to him before publishing what I originally wrote, but these things happen and I have done the most I could to fix it.

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