The Dumbo Arts Festival (All photos and video courtesy the author for Hyperallergic)
The Dumbo Arts Festival was pure unadulterated art-as-spectacle this weekend as tens of thousands of art lovers streamed along the waterfront, between streets, into buildings, and under the bridge to inhale an all-encompassing slew of pop-up art pieces strewn about the neighborhood. To consider the festival’s nighttime projections, interactive performances, dance routines, and live music an homage to public art is a slight understatement.
The Two Trees developers and their posse of sponsors can mark another year of success for creating a platform for art that is accessible (albeit a bit too digestible), free, and fun. For those initiated already into the art world, galleries, and open artist studios were the places to go for a little quiet time away from the splashy showcases of the outdoors, allowing communion with the artwork and its creators in depth.
The highlight from Friday night’s visit is hands down the video installation in the archway of Manhattan Bridge, entitled “Codex Dynamic.” My group loitered around the park and zig-zagged our way through the streets to discover … mostly installations still in progress. However, come 9pm the bridge was a magic medium for this giant projected exhibition of video works by a cast of artists, its animations engulfing the mammoth surface with 3D video-mapping technology. The video’s imagery included everything from humanoid sci-fi births to ticking clocks and looming cityscapes. A large crowd congregated under the archway, amused, and bedazzled by this sober psychedelic trip to a daunting-but-magical land.
Loitering through the park I was lightly entertained by Eve Bailey’s “Entasis Dance,” which primarily consists of dancers balancing and maneuvering their bodies with white oblong structures as their partners. The backdrop in which they staged their performance was the more breathtaking element, but their purity ritual with the sculpture, a play with balance and coordination, was a pleasurable spectacle.
Perched over the corner of the Tobacco Warehouse was Amanda Browder‘s fabric waterfall, storming down the walls and onto the floor for visitors’ stepping glory. This is also where Children’s Museum of the Arts’s full day of activities were hosted, so just imagine the endless stomping, billowing, and rubbing of loose snot along the surface of the installation.
Over at Brooklyn Bridge Park Two, a vacant, cemented park off the beaten path was filled with a series of pop-up tents with interactive performance asking guests to take a picture, draw a mustache, paint each other, read your fortune, buy garlic, get a haircut, or make a stop-motion video. Relational Aesthetics 101 in action.
The galleries inside 111 Front Street were open with a series of exhibitions that were endearing, though at times kitsch — blatant with punchlines and humor. Wittiest of them all was Jerstin Crosby’s “Vegan Pizza Party,” discovered at a group exhibition inside Arciles Homberg Fine Art. A life-size slice of pizza converted into a cave gathering. If you peek deep inside you’ll see a glimpse of strobe lights and hear the tunes of techno beats echoing through its cavernous breading. It’s an apt reflection of the Brooklyn art community, trapped in everyday materials to create the most original work and confined to a trendy dietary fad of veganism.
At the ITP Residents Show, Patricia Adler presented an iPhone app called MOB that allows users to discover and create impromptu happenings. Whether it’s dancing Gangnam Style (it’ll never get old) to forming a meditation circle, the artist has created a platform for interactive experiences.
Strolling and glancing through the open studios at 45 Main Street, 20 Jay Street, and 68 Jay Street I was most struck by a painting by Laura Karetzky. It was still a work in progress and I had the opportunity to help her finalize the title for the painting — “After Reading.” Think still life, vanitas, and hipster dinner party all jumbled in symbolic gestures of death, gluttony, anxiety, and pleasure.
Although I feel a compulsive obligation to list a surplus of mediocre-yet-mentionable installations, studios, performances, and artists I encountered during Dumbo Arts Festival, I think it’s fair enough for the betterment of editorial and readership to have offered you a glimpse and some hope of finding a needle prize within an overflowing Dumbo haystack.
The Dumbo Arts Festival took place all over Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood on September 28, 29, and 30.