Planting the Seeds of Revolution in DUMBO

How to find the revolution (all images by author)

Editor’s Note: Hyperallergic contributor Howard Hurst took a look at Can’t Hear the Revolution on August 18 but in the interest of creating dialogue, we sent another reviewer to take a look at the same show.

Even the ambitious curators of Can’t Hear the Revolution at Kunsthalle Galapagos admit that revolutions tend to happen slowly. But that doesn’t mean they’re not determined. With the debut show for the new Kunsthalle Galapagos curators, they are fixing the roots of what they hope will grow into an initiative where, above all, art will have a purpose.

A general view of "Can't Hear the Revolution"

The reestablished Kunsthalle Galapagos got off to a sweltering start last Saturday with a packed opening in the gallery situated above Galapagos Art Space. The exhibit by the new Kunsthalle Galapagos collective, Julie McKim, Gracie Kazer, Erik Hougen, Albert Shelton and Paul Bertolino, was organized in just two weeks, and the salon-style exhibit with works by over 100 artists does have an air of spontaneity about it. The group is taking over the space from Elizabeth Grady, who organized some impressive installations in 2010 and 2011, including Ofri Cnaani’s The Sota Project and Ryan Humphrey’s Look for the Dream that Keeps Coming Back, which incorporated limited artist editions.

L to R: Natalie Stevens, "Specimen" (2010), organic materials; Dennis McNett, "Sante Muerte" (2010), hand-painted wood-carving
Clockwise from top left: Julian Rodgers, "Forrest Green Light" (2010); Cybele, "The Replacements, 3" (2010); Iviva Olenick, "HenZ (w/Jon Baker)" (2011); Natalie Stevens, "Specimen" (2010)

Like every group show of this scope, there are highs and lows, but I was overall impressed with the quality of the art and the intelligent playfulness that gives it a bit of continuity. (I wasn’t surprised to hear several of the artists have or currently work for Jeff Koons or Takashi Murakami.) By inviting artists they knew and had worked with in the past, the curators intended Can’t Hear the Revolution to be a launching event, to showcase the work of the artists in the community they’re involved with, and who they would like to consider for solo shows and site specific installations in the future.

L to R: Wyatt Nash, "Canon" (2011), foam, metal, plastic and paint; Ryan Humphrey, "Boom Box" (2010), wood particle board, latex, paint and silkscreen ink

I returned on Sunday and talked with curators Julie McKim and Albert Shelton about the show and their vision for Kunsthalle Galapagos. Taking the German idea of “kunsthalle,” utilizing art spaces within a community, and applying it to DUMBO, their goal is to bring a relevant “visual culture” to the space that is accessible. “Our ultimate mandate is to show good work regardless of what it takes,” McKim said. With the kunsthalle impetus, they are thinking about how art can have a purpose, and how they often see that as being missing.

Clockwise from top left: Keigo Takahashi, "Creases 2" (2011); Sonne Hernandez, "Station Play" (2011); Aurora de Armendi, "House Series" (2005); Fumi Nakamura, "In Your Soul are Infinitely Precious Things that Cannot be Taken From You" (2010); Amanda C. Mathis, "Experiments with Architecture Series, 11.10 No. 2" (2010); Pete Watts, "Dimensions Diagram I" (2011)

As for the Guided by Voices-inspired show named, Albert Shelton said that “the title just felt right. We’re trying to describe something big and trying to start something big at the same time.” The curators picked Pete Watts’ “Dimensions Diagram I” as the publicity image, where the four dimensions are hypothetically rendered, much as their earnest vision is aimed at breaking through to a more collaborative and experiential arts presence in DUMBO.

In foreground: Flint Weisser, "Kelvin Generator" (2009), wood, delcrin, acrylic, stainless steel and brass

Some of the artists could be fascinating if given the space for a site-specific solo show. I would love to see the gallery cluttered with Flint Weisser’s antiquarian machines, or haunted by Cybele’s surrealist rabbits. As Can’t Hear the Revolution is sowing the seeds of visual culture in its DUMBO location, it will be exciting to see what sprouts from the little revolts of this show.

In foreground: Greg Singer, "The Miracle of Dimensional Lumber" (2010), gilded wood, paint and mahogany

Can’t Hear the Revolution closed on Sunday, August 21 at Kunsthalle Galapagos (16 Main Street, DUMBO, accessible from Water Street).

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