FEED, a migratory exhibition

What self-respecting urbanist doesn’t love a good public market, especially the kind where farmers and artisans can sell their wares directly to the customer while intensifying the use of public space? As practical examples go, the Omnibus team is particularly fond the East New York Farmer’s Market and the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket. But we’re also intrigued by the historical role public markets have played in the development of streets, neighborhoods and cities. In the interview we aired last week, Anthony Townsend – one of the creative team behind the Breakout! project commissioned for the League’s Toward the Sentient City exhibition (opening this week!) – describes some examples of how aspects of our financial system were born in the street. And at the end of this week, a dynamic team of visual and performing artists, anthropologists and architects will present “a series of cultural recycling investigations” at the Essex Street Market which will include installations, videos, performances and interactive walking tours aimed at illuminating the complex social and spatial interactions at play in the public market. Presenting partners include the Fragmental Museum and Cuchifritos Gallery. Check it out.

When: September 18th to 26th 2009 – 9am to 7pm – closed Sundays
Where: Essex Street Market, New York, between Rivington & Delancey Streets

According to the show’s organizers:

Public markets have always been a primary site of complex commodity exchange, and yet, were also once known as vital cultural centers for social and political exchange within an urban setting. FEED, a migratory exhibition presented by Fragmental Museum, seeks to experimentally explore the public space within the historic Essex Street Market through the installation and performance of visual arts and cultural projects. With the aim and process in dynamic unison, we do not necessarily seek to institute new connections, but to highlight and creatively bring into focus the relationships that are already at play. These interactions between merchant and shopper, product and consumer, artist and audience – are fluid and ever-changing. Through fostering animated conversations and conscious experiences, FEED seeks to encourage these existing open connections; intending to better understand the patterns and implications of the myriad of ways we relate to ourselves, each other, and our environment as a whole.

This upcoming installment initiates FEED as a series of cultural recycling investigations. A collaboration between Konstantinos Stamatiou and The Very Many forms the facade of the host space, Cuchifritos Gallery, and embodies the theme of the exhibit.

Through a synthesis of their related approaches to topology, this collaboration creates a sculptural cartography – a collective mapping – of the Essex Street Market. Inside, there will be a site-specific stadium by Constance Armellino & OFF Architecture, built of recycled materials and engraved with benefactors name to memorialize their (your?) endowment to FEED.

The video screening program is curated by Gabriela Galati featuring “Baby Bottle” by Baptiste Debombourg (Courtesy Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris), “Pinocchio” by Luca Bolognesi (Courtesy CAR projects, Bologna) and “The Bud, The Seed, The Egg” by Mores McWreath.

“Famine,” a collective performance coordinated by Vanessa Chimera & Paolo Bertocchi, will engage the public market visitors and local merchants in a social interaction throughout the entire market. Using research from the Tenement Museum Archives, “Famine” aims to bring to life the historical migrations embedded within the food in the market and link them to global economic and political patterns. The performance takes serious issues and explores them in a fun and engaging way.

Anthropologists Chelsea Estep-Armstrong, Rachel Signer, and Julia Nevarez are collaborating to design interactive walking tours which will employ various methods of critical inquiry in order to generate new ways of thinking about food in the contexts of space and place. Additionally, they are planning dynamic lunchtime discussion panels with activists, artists, and academics who will discuss the meanings of their own work as it relates to food, creativity, collaboration, and urban space.

Baptiste Debombourg’s works look into the relationship between common objects, everyday life events and art. Generally he works with sculptures and installations, but he also uses other media such as video, photography, drawing or performance. When working with video, Debombourg examines people’s hobbies, like in “Baby Bottle” where weekend racers use cars cut in half. In this way, ordinary events and discrete people’s interests are raised to a kind of ironical heroic level.

Luca Bolognesi usually works with photography and video. The artist consciously avoids giving any explanations or interpretations about his works as he prefers each piece to stand out by itself, without quotations or references. Pinocchio tries to free himself from his nose by hitting it against the screen over and over again. He won’t succeed, and the nose will become a sticky ball every time and more difficult to get rid of. Finally, Pinocchio will end up breaking his head in two.

As Mores McWreath expresses in his artist statement “My art interrogates and restages the fragmented nature of human subjectivity using video, photography, and drawing.”

In fact, his videos are usually divided into units that are like “chapters” or “vignettes” that are independent, but at the same time, they complete a broader sense when they are put together. So the form McWreath chooses to communicate in his works is also fragmental. “The Bud, The Seed, The Egg” is about potential and unexpressed possibilities, where overlapping segments of an unwritten text operate as an iconic reference to issues regarding human nature.

Cassim Shepard served as the founding editor of Urban Omnibus from its inception to 2014.