There’s stuff to blow your mind for days on end at Crossing Brooklyn: Art From Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond, which opens to the public at the Brooklyn Museum on Friday, October 3, and will be open and accompanied by tons of related programs and performances until January 3.
A massive space on the fifth floor of the museum is dedicated to the exhibition, which features a diverse array of installations, photography, paintings, sculpture, accounts and artifacts of performance art, video installations, film, neon lights, and even live pigeons.
The curators named the exhibition after Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” in which the poet wrote:
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations than you might suppose.[…]
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme– myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future
Like the narrator of the poem, many of the Brooklyn-based artists in this exhibition find inspiration in average people, everyday objects, ordinary settings, and seemingly banal situations, all of which make up the inherently hyper-social (for better or worse) fabric of urban life in Brooklyn.
Take the work “From Here To There” by Nobutaka Aozaki, an artist who engages in participatory performance. Aozaki collected hand-drawn maps from strangers he stopped on the streets to ask for directions. Instead of asking them to simply describe the best way to reach a landmark, the artist requested that each person draw a rough map. The result is a map unlike anything we’ve ever seen– a crowd-sourced, and very subjective map of Brooklyn. The work brings to life the real distance between individuals’ perception and even calls into question the relevance of objective truth in basic social interaction.
Paul Ramirez Jonas’s massive horse sculpture made of cork, The Commons, is the unofficial centerpiece of the exhibition given its sheer size and overwhelming presence in the domed room. From far away, the horse looks like any other you’ve seen in any city around the world. But what separates The Commons from all those other bronze horses and dudes on horses, is the result (much like with Aozaki’s work) of participation. The public is invited to post notes and other materials to the piece. Have fun trying not to look as if you’re pained by the sight of a torn up $20 bill pinned to the statue’s south side. C’mon, dude who’s responsible for that– you could have bought me lunch and a beer!
Another meditation on commonplace settings is Drew Hamilton’s Street Corner Project, a mini-replica of the corner where Meserole Street meets Graham Avenue in Bushwick, as seen by the artist from his second story window. Standing in front of the sculpture transports you straight to a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood coated in graffiti and grime, but it will also remind almost any Brooklynite of looking down at their local bodega from above. Hamilton’s attention to detail is incredible, and you can see a video documenting the reactions of the artist’s neighbors when he planted the various replicas next the originals.
Click through the images below for a sneak peek at the art work featured in the show, and be sure to check it out in person at the Brooklyn Museum. Stay tuned for Crossing Brooklyn-related events happening now through January including Project Eats, and participatory performances with Nobutaka Aozaki.