It was only a couple of minutes before midnight, when one of the last of the 13 artists arrived at Camel Art Space in East Williamsburg for the show 48 HRS. It was Rebecca Goyette, encumbered with a large bag, sewing machine and a folding table. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said, laughing as the door of the black cab slammed behind her.
Meanwhile, artist Julie Torres was turning the second floor of Camel Art Space into a multiple-artist studio space, assigning everyone a spot according to the style of their work. Warren King expressed the need to sit by a desk when creating his subtle pencil drawings; Rebecca Litt was planning to work alternatively on the floor and on the wall throughout the night; Ken Kocses, on the other hand, received a spot at the far corner where he planned to “violently attack” several canvases.
Regardless of the difference in styles at play, everyone was a little nervous to start a 48-hour long art marathon. Organizer Julie Torres invited me to participate and document the entire event through video and photography, which was to be exhibited as part of the show. I quickly accepted the exciting offer, although I was a little nervous myself. The plan was to create art work for 24-hours straight, starting on midnight on Friday and ending on midnight on Saturday. The next 12 hours were to be used to rest and to install the works for the 12-hour long art show, beginning on Sunday at noon and ending on Sunday at midnight.
Torres has been interested in engaging the art community through durational painting for several months. In May of this year, she undertook a 24-hour long painting marathon, an event hosted by Hyperallergic at our HQ office. The second half of the marathon was public, and everyone who came was able to take one of artist’s pieces home. Another notable communal event organized by Torres was the art show So Happy Together held at Norte Maar in Bushwick. Torres gathered 45 artists for two months of collaborative drawing nights. The exhibition generated 100 drawings.
For this past weekend however, Torres invited 13 other artists to join her. “I tend to paint for long periods, but working in such a focused way with another person is much more intense. And also, you sort of absorb what the other person is doing,” said Torres.
For me personally, the most interesting part was to observe how each participant dealt with the simple assignment to create art for 24 hours. While one group of artists came with a clear vision to execute certain project, others, similar to Torres, came to see what would happen and to feed off the energy generated by the event.
Chris McGee and Joey Parlett staked their own space separated from others. They claimed they both needed peace and quiet in order to create. They quickly became known in the group as the “Silent Boys,” for their seclusion and silent process. Parlett came to Camel with the idea to do a series of drawings of Eadweard Muybridge — one drawing every hour. Being a perfectionist, he kept a tracking chart and finished the last dot on the 24th drawing within the final moments of the art marathon.
Julie Curtiss, a French painter, spent the time mostly with her headphones on listening to downbeat drum’n’bass. At the end of the day, Curtiss presented several precisely executed and engaging paintings that reminded me of fantasy fiction.
Erin Haldrup‘s work was a peculiar example of a work with a very different outcome than originally planned. She brought a 10-feet-long unstreched canvas. Instead of using her initial idea of apple trees, she created a colorful praying rag instead.
Julie Torres dove into a meditative process, and the longer the experiment went, the deeper she seemed to submerge herself. At the 12-hour mark, her paintings on sheets of paper continued to be hung on a nearby wall. By the end of the day, the patchwork quilt of paintings made sense.
Rebecca Goyette was the only one sewing that night. She created two black “bundling bags,” with holes for faces covered with black veils. The bundling bags were connected through a tunnel for holding hands. During the opening, Goyette lay in one of the bundling bags, while another person could crawl into the other bag, hold her hand and take her on a “date.” For me, Goyette’s humorous performance became a metaphor for the entire 48 Hours event. Each of the artists took turns taking Goyette on a “date.” We cracked jokes, had fun, but the experience of being so close to her, lying in a bundle bag, felt strangely intimate.
#48HRS was held from midnight on Friday, October 21, 2011 to midnight on Sunday, October 23, 2011, at Camel Art Space (722 Metropolitan Ave, Second Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11211). Participating artists included: Lauren Collings, Julie Curtiss, Rebecca Goyette, Erin Haldrup, Katarina Hybenova, Warren King, Ken Kocses, Geddes Levenson, Rebecca Litt, Chris McGee, Joey Parlett, Jamie Powell, Babette Rittenberg and Julie Torres.