Who knew ice cream could be so socially charged? In an exhibit entitled “Who Owns the Cone?”, UK-based curatorial collective VERBureau is determined to dig past the frozen treat’s creamy vanilla exterior to reveal the socio-political history of ice cream and its preferred serving location of choice, the ice cream parlor. Starting this evening at 6pm, VERBureau is setting up at a project space in East Williamsburg. Installations by three artists, one from Brooklyn and the others from Glasgow, Scotland, will explore the social ramifications surrounding everyone’s favorite sugary concoction.
According to Harriet Wiseman, a curator at VERBureau, the organization was inspired to host their first New York exhibition because of both the city’s connection to the sweet treat (NYC claims to have invented the ice cream cone) and because of one particularly outspoken lady with quite the sweet tooth. Openly gay activist Elizabeth Irwin was born in Brooklyn in 1880 and, in 1921, founded the Little Red School House, a self-organizing educational institution based on progressive values. Irwin apparently used a local Brooklyn ice cream parlor as a frequent meeting place to draft plans for the school and develop its values.
For Wiseman, the exhibition will emulate the social function of an ice cream parlor. “We loved this idea of creating somewhere where people could go to engage and exchange ideas,” she said, noting that an ice cream parlor was “a neutral space, and not connected to a church or religion.”
The Glasgow artists, Rachel Sharpe and Carrie Gooch, will be using video and sound installations to narrate personal stories related to ice cream (you know, apart from the fact that people love to eat it). Kaloyan Ivanov, from Brooklyn, will be suspending a large piece of fabric from the ceiling, into which attendees can climb and experience the simultaneously intimate but also sometimes tense atmosphere that occurs when people share a public space.
After finishing up in Brooklyn, VERBureau will go on to Glasgow, where there’ll be a follow-up event in April. “We like to hop around,” Wiseman said, adding that they’d definitely like to return to New York soon though.
Tonight, from 6pm onward, VERBureau will be hosting a viewing with wine and ice cream (naturally). So if you’re keen on getting some licks in with your aesthetic social commentary, you’ll know where to find them.
Likky Ruth project space, 122 Waterbury Street, between Ten Eyck and Maujer Str, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Feb 19-21, 11 am-6 pm.