Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

AiOP 2015: RECALL Thinker in Residence: Britta Wheeler

I brought my son with me to 14th Street to experience Art in Odd Places 2015.

We started just West of Union Square, thinking we would see things all along the way. We read about the artists on my phone and plotted our way using the online map app.

The moment we started, I was struck by how everything looked like it could be art. People sitting or walking, the way the buildings looked in the bright fall sunlight, and the signage. On 14th street I think everything is art! Once I got into the mindset of Art in Odd Places, everything became art and I approached the entire experience as an art journey. I was less interested in the art objects that I might see and even in the actual artists, than in approaching it as an experiment in life art. Because everything looks like art, I look more carefully. I am more alert. I get into an aesthetic and a conceptual mindset. This is a huge area to cover in art!


Looking, Looking.


What is art?

Is that art?







In adapting this attitude I was also reminded of a derive, an art action instigated by the Situationists in the mid-20th Century. Doing a derive is such a special thing. I have done a few in my lifetime, as particular encounters with a group of friends, or I did one with a class I was teaching one time. “What is the difference between a derive and just plain everyday life?” you may ask. A derive is an intentional experience organized in such a way as to take you out of your daily routines, to get you into a different mind set, to launch you into a quest not of your own making but one of chance. But most importantly, the Situationists originally intended a derive to offset the pulls of capitalism and put us into an alternate frame of mind that was not contained and directed by the pulls of a capitalist life experiences that might include shopping, maintaining a schedule, and engaging the voices of our own interior monologue that pick us apart, make us doubt ourselves, compare ourselves to other people, feel so bad about ourselves that we might need to self-medicate or engage in self-destructive behavior. So I was happy to reconfigure my thought processes for the experiment of Art in Odd Places.


As we embarked on our journey and read the artists’ descriptions of their work, I started to think in their terms and began to pick things out that utilized the concepts of the artists. For instance, I am looking at every brown man, thinking: Is this Michael Paul Britto? I almost just start talking to any of the similar-looking men, but then I don’t… because none of these men are the artist.


My son wants a destination. I ask him if we can just have a wander; maybe we can think of it like a scavenger hunt. We continue our walk.

We looked at signage and wondered about its art-ness. Is this a piece by Isidro Blasco? I liked it and then kept seeing it repeated along the way.





We tweeted #14street from three different phone booths on 14th street and 7th Avenue, but we didn’t get a phone call from BAMteam.



My twitter feed:

Britta Wheeler @bbwheelerphd


Art in Odd Places #14street

Britta Wheeler @bbwheelerphd


#14street art in odd places

Britta Wheeler @bbwheelerphd


#14street art in odd places!

  • 1:30pm – 10 Oct 15


We run into Our Lady of 14th Street, Carolina Mayorga, as she is getting set up.


We are inspired by her and feel buoyed in our journey.


We continue along 14th Street into the Meatpacking district. We are confronted by a spectacle at the Samsung store, obviously using performance art tactics but without the irony. I speak the irony out loud but no one understands my commentary.



And as we cross 9th Avenue we see Leah Harper’s piece “Complimentary.” We were very happy to get some free compliments from her machine!




And we end our Art in Odd Places walk when we see L. Mylott Mannings protest action against Endangered Species.



We were transported out of our daily routine, out of the crazy busy schedule of our everyday life and taken on a journey of discovery: Where is art? What is art? Art is life.

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