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Re: Art Show is an ever-evolving, recurrent, curatorial project spearheaded by Erin Davis and Max C Lee. Previously housed within defunct portions of the former Pfizer Pharmaceutical factory in Brooklyn, Re: Art Show brings together an abnormally wide breadth of artists in an abnormal environment. Through the embrace of chance, ad-hoc adaptation, and experimental collaboration (both with the environment and the artists themselves), each iteration acts as a fluid network of ideas whose connections are, at once, coincidental and directed.
Re: Art Show was started in order to share our access – large, unused industrial spaces – with as many artists as we could, hoping to turn part of a closed private commercial facility into an open cultural space. We had a rare situation that often remains extremely difficult, if not impossible, for young artists to achieve. We are not a commercial space, so we therefore do not have the pressure of the market affecting what we show. We are not a museum, so we therefore do not have the pressure of a board of trustees, donors, or a curatorial hierarchy affecting what we show. We are also not a non-profit organization, so we therefore do not solicit donations (and there's less paperwork) which affords us the ability to focus our efforts entirely on what we show, who we show, and why we show it. It also affords us the ability to move quickly – we can respond to our audiences and critics by way of a direct conversation and direct action. The only pressure on our show to perform in any particular way is from those who address us directly, and we are listening. Our intended audience is the respective audience of our participants, which means we have a different audience with each iteration. We do not aim to make any money. We have a highly-unique platform, and we only want to be better.
We maintain cognizance of our presence within these spaces, as well as who we are, within this community as both artists and curators who are white, cisgender, men, and neither of whom are from New York. We realize that regardless of that awareness, we will always have blind spots: certain cultural spaces, ideologies, and issues that we will never be able to understand the same way as people who are differently affected, and especially those people who have defined their careers addressing these issues every day. We have therefore rejected our cultural blind spots as excuses, which is why we have (and will continue) to invite participants whose voices are much clearer on issues of representation, community spaces, gentrification, systemic oppression, and any future and previously unaddressed cultural or societal issues that anyone would like to bring forward. We are highly accessible and believe in candid conversation. We embrace addressing a variety of topics at once, while allowing artists to address them in a way that is raw and immediate and in direct conversation with our audience.
While in the former Pfizer building, we operated alongside a number of small and large businesses in the building, in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn (it’s off the Flushing Ave G stop, bordering South Williamsburg and Bushwick). In the building, there is a mix of highly-local and international businesses. It ranges from job placement programs to popsicles, research labs and music-rehearsal studios. Neighbors host birthday parties, concerts, and classes. Pratt University's MFA program is on the 7th floor. We were not the only art show in the building. The building is currently zoned as an M1-3 manufacturing site, making this space available for businesses to operate. What was once a closed-off factory for a large corporation was made into a slightly less closed-off hub for multiple businesses.
We had an agreement with the owners of the building that we could conduct exhibitions in the unused spaces of the building, and pay no rent or fees whatsoever. All costs of the show’s upkeep were covered by us personally. We only operated as long as there were spaces not leased. They required nothing of us and they did not censor our shows or strategize about what to display. They did not invite investors, stockholders, or brokers to our events, and neither did we. We invited our friends, art-related press, whoever our participants felt like inviting, and anyone in the surrounding community. We made no commission from the sale of artworks, and all inquiries are deferred to the artists themselves. We have no interest in any commercial agendas with the shows that we curate. Our only agenda sharing whatever space we're with artists and giving them a platform from which to promote what they feel is most valuable. We are artist and audience focused. In any future space we might use, we will always apply the same values we held while in the former Pfizer building.
The freedom and flexibility we had (and the enormous amount of usable space) is so rarely available to artists, particularly within New York, and we want to share any space we use in the most culturally-aware way possible. We invite anyone to visit our show. If anyone has any questions, concerns, proposals, or anything else, we ask you to not hesitate and email us at email@example.com. We hope to hear from you.
With respect and sincerity,
Erin Davis, Max C Lee