It’s telling that Exchange Rates, last weekend’s Bushwick-wide art event, is described on its official website as “an exposition,” as opposed to a straightforward exhibition or a sales-driven art fair. The four-day program of pop-up shows, talks, panels, performances, and ambulatory happenings pairing local Brooklyn galleries with art spaces from London, Manchester, Paris, Berlin, Zürich, Johannesburg, Beijing, Los Angeles, Seattle, and elsewhere felt at times like a biennial, a symposium, and, yes, even an art fair.
Locals Show and Prove
One of the international affair’s strongest shows was the one featuring the greatest number of local galleries. Bushwick’s Parallel Art Space, Associated Gallery, and Outlet brought their A-game to a vast and very rewarding group show in The Active Space‘s first floor gallery, which they shared with Johannesburg’s Artist Proof Studio, Beijing’s Telescope Gallery, and London’s Fort Gallery. Heeseop Yoon’s formidable tape mural at the rear of the space, “Still Life” (2014), presented by Outlet, proved a potent pairing with Jan Tshikhutula’s evocative, black-and-white linocut prints.
Gems at the Mall
The salesroom atmosphere was most palpable at Bushwick’s art mall, 56 Bogart Street, but even here the offerings were sufficiently eclectic and the pairings unpredictable enough to undercut the art fair airs. The cohabitation of Seattle gallery Season, the UK’s Blackwater Polytechnic collective, and local outfit Theodore:Art in the former’s space was especially fruitful. The more earnest and unconventional pieces by the Blackwater artists and the comparatively sleek and subdued works shown by Season formed extremes on a spectrum along which Theodore:Art’s selections could be located — Joyce Robins’s painted ceramics are undoubtedly more Blackwater-y, while Sharon Butler and Andrew Seto’s abstract paintings are more Seasonal in style.
The Industrial Pop-Up
The centerpiece of the weekend’s offerings was an installation of works in the Vazquez Building, a two-story industrial facility at the corner of Central Avenue and Forrest Street, where Bushwick’s Harbor, Seattle’s Spaceworks, and London’s Studio 1.1, among others, had installed pieces. Much of the installation left me indifferent, including the large-scale but nevertheless forgettable sculptures by Antoniadis & Stone that greeted visitors as they entered. One great treat was the room full of Michael Childress paintings, all white-on-blue and suggestive of indecipherable science diagrams or the postal stamps of some extra-planetary parcel service. (Though I missed their performances and gaming sessions in an upstairs space at the Vazquez Building, I will now be following the activities of the Institute of Aesthletics, a group exploring the intersection of contemporary art and sports.)
Rather than separate out their artists completely, or intersperse them randomly, Manchester’s Paper and Seattle’s Platform Gallery grouped their works thematically and by visual correspondence, making for a very compelling group show at Schema Projects. The most appealing of these pairings brought together works riffing on vernacular sign- and note-making. Marc Dombrosky’s embroidered notes, like cryptic Post-Its, were a subdued but successful match for David Milles’s ink and watercolor paintings based on “Lost Cat” posters.
Berlin in Bushwick
One of the most thoughtfully curated and diverse exhibitions I saw all weekend was at TSA (Tiger Strikes Asteroid), where Berlin’s GSL Projekt was presenting a show of works in which artists were exploring the limits of perception, and imagining what might lay beyond them. A pair of photographs by Hanna Ljungh showing layers of construction materials and three whimsical paintings by Marie Von Heyl imagining different arrangements of geological strata echoed each other nicely. More astronomic takes on the theme, Naomi Reis’s “Dark Matter (Glitch)” (2011) and Alana Lake’s “Black Sun” (2014) — a black flag printed with an image of a solar eclipse — made for another compelling internal rhyme in this smart show.
Exchange Rates, of which Hyperallergic is a media sponsor, took place October 23–26 at various locations in Bushwick, Brooklyn.