If you thought pole dancing was just a thing for strippers and dance instructors (or strippers turned dance instructors), you thought wrong. It’s a thing for art galleries too. This Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. artists Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly will be showcasing their exhibition P.O.L.E.—People, Objects, Language, Exchange—at the New Museum Lobby Gallery. The exhibit will be on daily at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. from February 4 to 15. The main attraction is Two Brothers, where a colorful array of entertainers—from exotic dancers to contemporary artists to those ever embattled subway performers —will perform around two 16-foot brass poles.
This isn’t your standard pole dancing fare. Gerard explains that he and Kelly were thinking about how social issues intersect around the art. The exhibit will also include a four-channel video installation made in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting, which was central in their brainstorming.
“I think the question is what kinds of exchanges across so-called differences in race, class and sexuality are enabled by the pole,” Gerard says. “When different communities have used pole dancing outside of the norm, and used it for other means, what kinds of new intimacies are possible?”
The exhibit is the culmination of Gerard & Kelly’s six-month Research and Development residency as part of the New Museum’s R&D Season: CHOREOGRAPHY. Gerard and Kelly have been collaborating since 2003. Their most recent work is Timelining, on view last year at the Kitchen, which they are working on presenting as part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition “Storylines,” a collection to be on view June-October 2015.
Admission to the New Museum is half off for the whole show.