The House of Yes has something of a problem with their shimmering, funky, newish venue in Bushwick– they have a surplus of space, which is sort of a unique issue when it comes to digs in post-industrial-squatting Brooklyn. But as the performance collective settles into what’s by far their most functional and fanciest home yet, they’re filling up their calendar with even more events. Soon enough they’ll have every inch of the space and their time occupied by cool happenings. Take for example, the first-ever Question the Market (Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29), billed as a new pop-up “queer design and arts market.”
“It will be shopping as nightlife, nightlife as shopping,” organizer Eric Schmalenberger told us. “I feel like shopping can be more than shopping. When given the right space, it can be more interesting and engaging, and the great thing about flea markets is that you, often, can engage with the maker.”
Schmalenberger, as a theatre producer and performer, has been in the business of pulling together events for a while. “I have been curating performance and art and shopping things for a couple of years now, and this is just a chance to combine everything together,” he told us over the phone.
The market’s also a follow-up on the promise that House of Yes co-founder Anya Sapozhnikova made when the venue rolled out their Middle-Eastern influenced and sometimes “sexy jazz” brunch earlier this spring. “The way that the space works– there’s a separate restaurant, so I’m hoping it will be a lovely spring weekend and people will be out in Bushwick, they’ll come by, they’ll get brunch, they’ll peruse through the vendors and see what it is that they like,” Eric explained.
Although it’s a one-weekend thing for now (hence pop-up), Eric said, “We’re giving it a go and if it goes well, hopefully we’ll be doing more of them in the future.”
Question the Market will feature a plethora of vendors set up in the theater space, with tables propped up on the floor and stage. DJs and “maybe some live musicians” will provide the sounds, while various performances– including circus and aerial routines– will take place throughout. “Every once in a while, someone will come down from the ceiling and be wearing lots of feathers and spandex and entertain people and there will be music and alcohol,” Eric said. “Performances will happen either amongst the crowd, above the crowd, or above the bar.”
As for the wares, expect to find plenty of independent designers hawking clothing and accessories, vintage sellers with small racks of their favorite items, as well as foodstuffs from bakers and other cook-types. According to Eric, the market will be a killer place to pick up some unique costume attire that you probably can’t find anywhere else unless you’re super in-the-know (Burning Man is right around the corner, people).
“A lot of the vendors are people who are involved in nightlife and performance, so I’ve got everything from burlesque performers who will be selling pasties and feathered headdresses to people who make outfits for some of the more well known nightlife figures in the city,” he said. “And then, you know, chocolate because chocolate is delicious and who doesn’t like chocolate?”
Since the “queer” label has been sort of co-opted by art-world curators and other event organizers as a way to make their happenings seem relevant, its use to describe a market might give some people pause initially. But Eric’s legit– he’s a regular on the Brooklyn LGBTQ scene and said that Question the Market will be a way to rep his people. “Everyone in the market falls within the queer sphere– I think it’s just a nice way to be representative of my community and the things that we enjoy,” he said. “And you know, straight people please come in and buy things– but it’s just nice to make a safe space for queer artists and queer designers.”
We asked Eric if he could help us envision what the market will actually look like, and he graciously teased out what he had in mind for the flea. “I have this image from really hokey films of an exotic bazaar where there’s a lot of life, and people are talking and there are just little things happening in every corner, and it’s a little bit magical a little bit strange,” he said. We couldn’t think of a better fit for House of Yes.
Question the Market is happening Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29 at House of Yes in Bushwick. Check out their event page for a full list of vendors.