Leading arts and tech nonprofit Eyebeam has announced plans to move into a space in Brooklyn’s Industry City for roughly three years before relocating to an as-yet unbuilt space in downtown Brooklyn. The organization has also announced the recipients of its new two-year 2014/2015 Eyebeam Fellowships.
Eyebeam’s new transitional headquarters will be located at 34 35th Street in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, which is already home to many artists, design firms, and other light industry and manufacturing operations.
The two recipients of the organization’s 2014/2015 Eyebeam Fellowships are Nancy Nowacek and Torkwase Dyson, who will each receive $30,000 for the first year of work. Eyebeam also named as honorary fellows the Not an Alternative collective, which was cofounded by Jason Jones and Beka Economopoulos.
Nowacek’s work at Eyebeam will focus on exploring what type of “bridge” downtown Brooklyn might want for the 21st century, while Dyson will examine “Habitats for Carbon Free Social Exchange.” Not an Alternative plans to conduct a socially engaged art project “that aims to educate the public about the social and political forces that affect nature yet are left out of national history museums.”
This is the first time Eyebeam will offer two-year fellowships (previous fellowships were one year), a move that Director of Residencies and Programs Roddy Schrock says has precedent within the organization but marks the first time it has been formalized in the program guidelines.
“This time I felt it would be useful to have this as part of the total process, such that the fellows can create an arc for their work during their time with us. We lengthened it to two years for this call, and we plan to do the same for next year’s call, to allow for time to really dig into their research and develop work that can strive to be as deeply meaningful and resonant as possible and to fully document the research-based practice,” Schrock said. “In Nancy and Torkwase’s work, this was clearly taken into consideration in their proposals, which is part of why we invited them.”
While the organization is somewhat concerned that their less central location in Industry City may impact their ability to attract visitors to the site, Schrock explained that they selected the fellows with that in mind.
“Yes, that’s been a concern from the beginning. Industry City is VERY close (N, R, D run express), but somehow, psychologically, many people still feel that it’s far away. Our explicit focus in this fellowship on artists working in the overlap of social practice and technology is meant to be a partial response to this concern: we need to learn from creative practitioners that have a nontraditional practice that can exist outside of the regular exhibition space and be visible in the community, in and with the public,” he said. “We have a long history of supporting artists like this (Steve Lambert, Caroline Woolard, Mary Mattingly, all the way back to Graffiti Research Lab), but this time I was very aware of needing to explicitly invite those types of practitioners in for the fellowship. Additionally, we’ll be partnering with other organizations throughout the city to exhibit work and already have plans to work on Governors Island this summer. Our current residency call is also built around this same focus, to help build a cohort of creative collaborators.”
Eyebeam is still preparing to move to a permanent home in an unbuilt space in downtown Brooklyn, currently a parking lot across from BAM and next door to the Mark Morris Dance Company. The building will be designed by WorkAC (Work Architecture Company); the final design has not been unveiled. WorkAC is known in the New York area for their expansion of the Kew Gardens Public Library in Queens, their design of the Diane von Furstenberg Studio headquarters in the Meatpacking District, and Manhattan’s Children’s Museum of Art.