Occasionally, the bottomless procrastination pit of Facebook serves a greater purpose than stalking exes. Sometimes the social network affords a community of strangers the chance to share in a common cause. And sometimes that translates into something tangible, like 111 artists from all across the country exhibiting together at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side. Appropriately, curators Susan Carr and Suzan Shutan have titled the resulting show “GOING BIG.”
A couple weeks back I was lucky enough to have lunch with Lydia Lunch, a legendary figure in the New York no wave scene and the hurricane-like force behind Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, queen of spoken word, and now a multi-faceted visual artist who remains inextricably tied to the downtown scene of the late 1970s and ’80s despite having left New York City in the dust a long time ago. Understandably, Lunch’s feelings about the city have changed somewhat over the years. “I hate fuckin’ New York,” she told me. “It’s dirty and you’re paying five times too much for every fuckin’ thing. I don’t understand how it can be so expensive and still suck in so many ways. The quality of the food, the subways– I’d rather walk. Rats, disgusting.”
Alt Citizen has been doing their thing since 2012– the music blog’s bread-and-butter is album reviews (past and present), essays, show recommendations (mostly local Brooklyn stuff), and interviews with bands from all over. Last year, they expanded to a pocket-sized zine, of which three issues have dropped. “When you do a blog for years you start to go crazy not having a tangible thing to show people in terms of what you’re working on, so the zine naturally came out of that,” editor-in-chief and founder Nasa Hadizadeh admitted. The same impetus was behind Alt Space, a brand new storefront and gallery Alt Citizen is opening in Bushwick next week.
You’d have to be living under a rock to be surprised to hear Bushwick is undergoing some explosive changes. It feels like streetscapes here are transforming faster than anywhere else in the city and many longtime residents feel they’re losing grip on their neighborhood. But Bushwick is in a strange limbo right now. While the northeast corner is bubbling over with ritzy new restaurants, bars, clothing stores, and art galleries, all increasingly patronized by German tourists and chiseled young bro dudes with man buns, for now at least the southern section closer to the graveyard has resisted these striking demographic shifts and skyrocketing rents. “We need to make moves now,” explained Drew Vanderburg, a resident of Bushwick and a graduate student at Parsons in the Design and Urban Ecologies program.
Danielle De Jesus is surprisingly level-headed when talking about how gentrification has affected her family and her community. The 27-year-old artist was born and raised in Bushwick and has seen the neighborhood change dramatically over the past several years. Her photographs, part of a one-day-only exhibition, “Made in Bushwick,” happening at the Living Gallery this Thursday evening, capture a neighborhood most newcomers might never have seen and the stark contrast between old and new.
Walking in to Smack Mellon last Friday, I was immediately overtaken by a sense of urgency. Respond is the current exhibition taking place at the non-profit space in Dumbo. It’s brought together over 200 artists– working in a variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography, mixed media, and film– whose contributions are all united by their concerns with police brutality and institutionalized racism in America.
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