Three years after the police shut down their Bushwick gallery and party pad, brothers Sei and Ki Smith keep finding gonzo ways to show art. Last Saturday, the founders of Apostrophe NYC launched a guerrilla attack on MoMA PS1 in Queens. Sneaking in paintings with hinged dowels that they had hidden in their bags, they infiltrated the museum’s courtyard and quickly pushed the works into 12 one-inch holes in the wall, adding informational cards that mimicked the museum’s Proxy font.
Onlookers got to admire the instant installation for about 20 minutes before it drew the attention of MoMA’s employees, who asked the group to take down the pieces. A few minutes later, the paintings were gone and their creators had scattered in the streets.
The rogue show was the work of Base 12, a collective of emerging artists from various backgrounds (see here for the full list) who’ve set out to install temporary, unsanctioned exhibitions in 12 locations: three New York museums, three subway stations, three parks, and three foreign cities– Istanbul, Barcelona and London.
“If you go to a gallery in Brooklyn or a museum, you’re going to look at the artists in a certain way,” said Ki. “You look at art through the lenses of the site you’re seeing it in. We’re breaking down these barriers. We bring life and excitement into an opening.”
Although most of these happenings are not sanctioned, Apostrophe NYC avoids committing any act of vandalism. “We’re putting the art up there, but we’re doing it in a respectful way,” said Sei. At the Whitney, they cut the back of the nails and used tape to press the paintings against the walls and windows. “The staff went to inspect,” said Sei. “They were looking for holes, but couldn’t find anything– that was wonderful!” The Whitney’s management didn’t seem amused– the brothers got a lifetime ban.
Sei and Ki have reason to be careful when it comes to legal issues: back in 2013, they spent a night in jail and were put on a lengthy probation after their space was shuttered for illegal sale of alcohol.
The location for the next pop-up show will be another museum. According to Ki, he and his brother have been considering four possible locations: “We’re looking for the best combination of innovative way to hang and amount of time where we’ll be able to be seen.”