Most people hate airing their dirty laundry. Not Michael McKeown. His massive handmade skivvies will be hanging on a clothesline in a Bushwick alley through April.
The artist’s outdoor installation, “Winter Laundry,” was due to close this weekend but just got extended at 16 Harrison Place.
“Winter Laundry” is McKeown’s whimsical tribute to his upbringing in 1960s England, in a neighborhood where clothes were washed every Monday. “As a child I remember being kind of fascinated by the way things froze, these wooly sweaters that could stand on their own,” McKeown said.
From his kid’s-eye view, the garments hanging up to dry seemed huge. With help, McKeown constructed 14 pieces of clothing from found objects. “They’re made twice the scale, which quadruples the volume,” he said of shirts, socks, shorts, a baby onesie, and a memorable pair of tighty whities. “I think people come by and they do a double-take,” the artist said. “They realize something’s not quite right. Then they smile.”
For the exhibition (curated by ArtHelix‘s Bonnie Rychlak), McKeown originally wanted to to do something that involved ice, but historically Bushwick winters had been too warm to sustain frozen sculptures. He thought up “Winter Laundry” as a more manageable alternative, but the weather still posed challenges.
“It’s a windy part of Bushwick. This winter was very tough. I have to go over there periodically and make repairs,” said McKeown, who lives in New Jersey. Since “Winter Laundry” opened in January, McKeown has not lost any items to the elements
During the week, a locked fence prevents passersby from getting a close look at the clotheslines. As the temperatures rise, McKeown hopes to have the gate opened for a few hours each weekend. A party will coincide with “Winter Laundry’s” new closing date.
16 Harrison Pl. between Bogart St. and Morgan Ave. in Bushwick, by the Morgan Ave. L stop