Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

AiOP 2017: SENSE- Get To Know This Year’s Staff!

Blue4-SideTitle copy

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) 2017: SENSE is fast approaching! As with every year, SENSE wouldn’t be possible without the help of a dedicated team of volunteer staff. Staff members bring their own skills, experiences, and insights that help add to the success and uniqueness of each festival. Below is a list of almost all the staff involved in this year’s festival, each with a short bio and many recounting their own connections with 14th Street, the yearly stage for the public performances and installations. Though everyone on the AiOP 2017 team might not be presently represented in this piece, we are all working very hard to make sure SENSE is an engaging and unforgettable experience, and are very excited to bring it to the public on 14th Street this October!

 

Christina Daniels- Curatorial Manager

Christina Daniels

Christina Daniels

Bio:

Christina is currently the Marketing and Development Associate at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn. She also teaches figure skating and roller skating at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center. Beyond work, she loves to play the ukulele, go to concerts, and ride her bike to the beach.

14th Street Connection:

Before Christina permanently moved to New York, she was interning in the LES and living on 14th Street in a Parsons dorm. While wondering around 14th that summer, she decided she should probably move to New York after school. Upon graduation, she moved to the City and has lived there for the past 5 years.

 

Claire Gohorel- Curatorial Assistant

Claire Gohorel

Claire Gohorel

Bio:

I am an anthropologist. My passion for the study of ritual, performance and traditional art compelled me to move to New York City eight years ago, when I spent a summer guiding visitors through the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue. I now work in the opera field.

14th Street Connection:

This is a story of 14th Street as a boundary line. I go to Ray’s Candy Store one cold November night. Ray Alverez squirts vanilla syrup into a paper cup, adds seltzer and milk, and stirs it with a long handled spoon. Egg creams are one of his specialties. He tells me stories of his life and the kindness of his neighbors. For forty years, Ray has paced the well-worn floors of his deli, rarely venturing above 14th Street. If you walk along Tompkins Square Park on Avenue A, you might see him illuminated in his shop’s florescent light.

 

Emilie Ahern- Catalogue Designer

Emilie Ahern

Emilie Ahern

Bio:

My name is Emilie Ahern. I am a native southerner who loves nature and soaking up the sun’s rays. I am an artist by trade and currently work in an arts non-profit in the Education, Outreach, and Marketing departments. (I wear many hats.)

Scene from Emilie Ahern's 14th Street memory

Scene from Emilie Ahern’s 14th Street memory

14th Street Connection:

I had seen snow before, but it had been a long time, 19 years in fact. A cold day in November, a friend of mine invited my husband and me to check out the Rockefeller Tree. We all felt it was one of those tourist things that was worth doing once. Of course, it was insanely crowded and very cold, so we decided to go get some hot chocolate. My brother had told me about a place near Union Square, so down to the subway we went. When we emerged from the underground into the Square, we met the Christmas Market. Quickly we got our hot chocolates and returned to the market to explore. As the afternoon turned to evening, it began to snow. I hadn’t seen snow in 19 years, and my husband had never before seen snow. My friend laughed at our surprise and delight, and snapped a photo of us as we tried to catch snowflakes on our tongue.

 

Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle- Curatorial Assistant

Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle

Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle

Bio:

Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle is an independent curator and artist who approaches the arts as a critical tool for education and change. She co-founded Casa Experimental, an after-school arts program at the Ridgewood Bushwick Youth Center, and has recently worked with the New Museum, No Longer Empty, and Red Bull Studios. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

14th Street Connection:

When I think of 14th street, I think of Union Square as a site of gathering and resistance. On my breaks from work on Saturday, I would walk to the Union Square Farmers Market, sit on a bench and watch folks choose flowers and apples, as others gathered in small groups with homemade signs of protest. Many protests and marches begin with a rally at Union Square. I have gone to many of these, met friends at the subway station and joined the crowds chanting, fighting the good fight. Despite all its tourist-driven madness, Union Square is – at its best – a place where communities convene and assert their voices; this essence extends all along the lively thoroughfare that is 14th street.

 

Cynthia Cui- Curatorial Assistant

Cynthia Cui

Cynthia Cui

Bio:

Jing Cui graduated from Pratt Institute with a master degree in Arts and Cultural Management. She has been working with art galleries, film festivals and art institutions both in the U.S. and China. During her time at school, Jing Cui worked on socially responsible projects that promoted social justice, civic engagement, and equality. She enjoys collaborating with creative communities to bring positive change to society.

14th Street Connection:

14th street is my first connection to New York City. My program was located in a building on 14th street between 6th and 7th Avenue. It was the first place I visited once I arrived New York. I took classes, worked and hung out with friends on 14th street, and there were many stores and restaurants I visited often. It was where my story in NYC began and where my story in NYC developed.

 

Katrina De Wees- Curatorial Assistant

Katrina De Wees

Katrina De Wees

Bio:

Katrina De Wees is an interdisciplinary culturalist, specializing in performance and visual arts. She enjoys making short films, dances and living installations, which she has presented in New York, Toronto, São Paulo and Paris. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Katrina is a Hampshire College Alum and is completing her Masters in Curating Performance at Wesleyan University. She has served at institutions such as The Studio Museum in Harlem, The American Museum of Natural History and Danspace Project, while working as a freelance dance dramaturge, curator and scholar, and with companies such as Hi-Arts, Pratt Institute and Frieze New York. She enjoys serving the public and the cultural arena, wearing many hats and fashion-forward ensembles wherever she roams. She is currently based in New York City and New Orleans, LA.

14th Street Connection:

As a native Brooklynite who traversed to Manhattan island by-day to attend School of the Future in Gramercy Park, Union Square was the natural after-class destination. My classmates would make out with the sign-holders claiming to be reincarnations of Jesus, while I took interest in the political gatherings, street art and dance performers. I began training capoeira, and visited the legendary Mestre João Grande’s Angola studio, then on 14th street and 6th Avenue. This inspired me to contribute an original performance called Forsenga to the 2012 Art in Odd Places: MODEL, curated by my former colleague Edwin Ramoran. Forsenga references Senga Nengudi’s R.S.V.P. hosiery series, creating a moving installation of representational femininity inside the tight confines of stretched nylon with sand, spatially resembling a game in a capoeira roda.

 

Susan Joy Rippberger- Curatorial Assistant

Susan Joy Rippberger

Susan Joy Rippberger

Bio:

I am an artist and ethnographer, exploring concepts of migration and home, collectivity and solitude, through performance and textiles. I have danced with light and shadow in experimental spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mazatlán, New York, and Berlin. In my practice, I work between tensions of negative space, community, and gendered art forms.

Susan Joy Rippberger

14th Street Connection:

As an immigrant from California, I’m still exploring New York City, so I am just now getting acquainted with 14th street, it’s potential for art and community, and the artists and curators who will make the 14th Street Art Festival come alive. Before moving to NYC, I visited my daughter often, and in one of my first experiences with 14th street, I purchased a pair of shoes for her wedding at a store that no longer exists. I walked through 14th Street’s parks and commercial zones without fully grasping how it was unique and different from other parts of the city. I’m only now seeing how it is remarkably distinct.

 

Katelyn Ahladas- Curatorial Assistant

Katelyn Ahladas

Katelyn Ahladas

Bio:

I am a recent graduate with a passion for public art and accessibility. I believe art to be an incredible societal tool. A tool for communication, an educational tool, a therapeutic tool; a vital component of a healthy and happy community. In addition to my position as an Art in Odd Places curatorial assistant, I volunteer at Artist Alliance Inc.’s Cuchifritos Gallery in Essex Street Market, and assist Lower East Side based artist Laura Nova, as well as art collective Feed Me a Story.

14th Street Connection:

A few summers past, I worked for a grocery delivery app and spent much time waiting for orders in Union Square Park. As anyone who has ever visited this park might imagine, I saw some pretty strange things on a regular basis. One afternoon, a group of English cricket players strolled through the park, dressed all in white, many still wearing or carrying gear. They seemed unable to resist stopping to chant and dance with the Hari Krishna’s (a park staple)! This unusual pairing was a delight to watch and went on for at least 15 minutes. A lovely example of the beautiful ways different cultures and peoples mesh in Lower Manhattan.

 

Kara Nandin- Curatorial Assistant

Kara Nandin

Kara Nandin

Bio:

Kara Nandin is an aspiring non-profit professional with specialized interest in Native American and First Nations art. She has co-curated several exhibitions at the Binghamton University Art Museum as part of the undergraduate curatorial apprenticeship, and hopes to continue developing her curatorial practice in non-profit spaces. After graduating from (SUNY) Binghamton in both English Literature and Art History, she has gained meaningful experiences working for non-profit organizations like Artists Alliance Inc. and MoMA PS1.

14th Street Connection:

Last summer I was lucky enough to see the infamous statue of a completely naked Donald Trump that was briefly erected in Union Sq by the anarchist collective INDECLINE, before it was swiftly removed by the Parks Department. In the crowd of onlookers stood a debilitated man dressed in an elaborate costume made entirely from newspaper. Standing face-to-face with the statue, he laughed relentlessly and joyously in the face of Trump. Watching this role reversal is one of my favorite moments of irony and joy.

 

Paulina Kowalczyk- Curatorial Assistant

Paulina Kowalczyk

Paulina Kowalczyk

Bio:

Paulina Kowalczyk is an independent art producer and curator. She received her MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation from University of Edinburgh. She has been involved in many film festivals, including programming exhibitions for Glasgow Film Festival, and East London Film Festival, among others. In 2013, she had a great chance to work on the various exhibitions at the curatorial department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Kowalczyk works mainly in the area of immersive and interactive installations based on the works of contemporary and independent artists.

 

Jenny McCabe- Social Media Strategist

Jenny McCabe

Jenny McCabe

Bio:

Jenny McCabe was born, raised and still lives in the East Village of NYC.  She works in Film & TV, frequently in the casting department and is drawn to broadening her idea of beauty, authenticity, and discovering the humanity in others.  She participated in Ghana Think Tank’s workshop, “Black Lives Matter Street Signs (2015)” at SUNY Purchase College School of Art and Design, part of an exhibit curated by Sara Reisman at the Dolly Maass Gallery.  The piece was also installed at Art In Odd Places 2015: RECALL.  She received a BFA in filmmaking at SUNY Purchase and continues to write and direct her own work.

14th Street Connection:

“When I was a child, there used to be a fish market on Avenue B and 14th street. I have a very early memory of my father and I walking east on 14th street and suddenly, in front of me, we saw this enormous crab coming towards us at a very high speed. I stopped and looked down at it- as it whizzed past my toes- then watched it continue west, darting in between other pedestrians. When I turned and started walking again, I saw this huge, flustered Asian man from the fish market hauling ass as fast as he could, charging along, trying in vain to catch up to it.”

 

Sofia Reeser del Rio- Curatorial Assistant

Sofia Reeser del Rio

Sofia Reeser del Rio

Bio:

Sofía Reeser del Rio is El Museo del Barrio’s Curatorial Programs Coordinator and has been part of the curatorial team for the past four years, working on all of their exhibitions in multiple capacities. Pedagogy, Art and Culture are at the core of her practice and interest. In 2016 Sofía was invited to work in Mexico City on the exhibition YOKO ONO: LAND OF HOPE and as guest curator for the Puerto Rican region of Entre Islas, an international video festival originated in Spain. She is enrolled in the Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship (ICA) offered by Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). Sofía has a degree from Pratt Institute in Fine Art and Art History and before moving to New York City in 2009, studied Philosophy and Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico. Her recent curatorial works have been organized at Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center and Spring/Break Art Fair, both in New York; at Antiguo Arsenal de San Juan, Puerto Rico and upcoming at MECA Art Fair in Puerto Rico. Sofía’s writing has been published for exhibition catalogues, brochures and conferences.

14th Street Connection:

I am native of Puerto Rico but have been coming to New York ever since I was in middle school. Mostly tagging along my mothers work-related travels to the city. We would spend a lot of time walking from one place to another, but 14th Street Union Square was always a meeting point- a place to get fresh produce at the market, to sit and listen to musicians playing on the edge of the park, have our lunch or just rest. It formed a memory of what New York means to me, what it makes me feel and why I always find myself searching for those moments now. Moments where things converge, interact and happen with ease, and there’s a sense of coexisting that feels genuine, something I crave for more and more as I grow older and become aware of how politics and greed feed fear into our communities, something, when I was younger, in the city I never felt. It was a place I could sit for hours and observe the diversity of New York play itself in front of me, a safe place.

 

Matthew Morowitz- Blog Editor & Head Writer

Matthew Morowitz

Matthew Morowitz

 

Bio:

Matthew Morowitz has been involved with Art in Odd Places (AiOP) since the 2012 festival, MODEL. A native of New Jersey, Matthew holds a dual BA in Archaeology and Art History from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, as well as an Advanced Diploma in Cities and Urban Development from NYU. He has professional experience in cultural resource management, historic preservation, and a random assemblage of skills from various temp jobs. He is interested in figuring out new ways to use cultural and historic identity, and creative endeavors, to assist grassroots advocacy when pushing for more equitable public spaces, and community and neighborhood preservation. In his spare time, Matt enjoys journaling and translating Algerian literature.

14th Street Connection:

In its own way, 14th Street has become my upper boundary for New York City. Socially and Professionally, I find myself more entrenched in both the Village (where I work) and Brooklyn (where I live). AiOP really became the first social outlet I had in the city, and 14th Street my comfort zone. On almost every block I can recall stories of heartfelt encounters, drunken nights, unexpected situations, painful incidents, places that are almost like old friends, places that have changed, and ones that are no longer around. In a way, 14th Street is my microcosm to the macrocosm of the city, where I can observe all its changes and see reflections of the elements that have come to define the different NYC identities: old and new, rich and poor, eastside and westside.

 

Balloons, Purses and Stardust: Elena Muñoz Perezanta, December 2016

playhomebanner

Art In Odd Places (AiOP) is really a space and time for odd things to happen. The day after the presidential election of 2016 (as the surprised Mexican I was at that point) I traveled to Orlando, FL., a state won by Donald Trump just 24 hours before our arrival. I remember sitting in front of the TV the night before thinking “this is actually happening.” As the piece I was presenting in AiOP required a little help, my boyfriend Gabriel came along.

The original project consisted in two workshops in which people could build recycled plastic swings and hang them to the trees around Eola Park area. The swings were perfect for the festival`s theme: PLAY, and since I´ve been hanging these for the last 7 years, it was a great opportunity to do it outside Mexico.

It turned out that the city of Orlando did not allow the hanging of these swings due to the risk of trees breaking and the safety of the people swinging. While it is difficult for a city government to allow people to attach things to urban structures, it is not at all unusual. The original idea had to be changed; I wanted to do something as a reply to this prohibition, so the new project had to accomplish three things:

 

  1. It had to be extremely flexible, ephemeral, mobile and, most important, free of being attached to anything in the city.
  2. It had to expose thoughts (mine and others) of un-doable things in public space in Orlando.
  3. It had to build a local reflection of the things people are most eager to do (perform) in a public space.

 

This ephemeral element would act as a parasite visitor, gathering information in a subtle and quick way without attaching to the city. It became clear that the project would consist in an inflatable shape that could be moved around easily and that, on it, one could read: Why Can`t I…? Followed by the question I had been trying to answer for the last five weeks: What do you wish you could do in public space?

Before traveling to Orlando, I started doing some research on the city`s legislation regarding public spaces. I was surprised to find out about the story of people from a religious group who got arrested for giving food to the homeless. My second surprise was learning about the Exempt Zones in Orland: blue boxes painted on the floor so street performers can “do their thing” inside these boxes.

These boxes were painted in an effort to control panhandling. Citizens complained about aggressive panhandling, so an ordinance was drafted making it illegal to panhandle downtown. The blue boxes were created to protect first amendment rights, of freedom of speech.”(http://www.urbansketchers.org/2016/01/the-start-of-orlando-florida-blue-box.html)

Between all these situations, Oh Why Can`t I…? is an action with an object that belongs to no place. At the same time, it is a “wish wall” that publicly shows the desires of what people of a particular place want to do.

P1120072

On opening day, we went out with the cube shaped balloon and rambled the streets downtown. Our expectations were not very high; the previous days I noticed that this is not a particularly crowded city. As an object that has a huge mobility and that easily goes far away with a little push, quickly we were outside the area designated for AiOP. We arrived to Lake Eola Park; the project had started, little crowds gathered in different moments as we rolled through the streets. It was a sight a bit striking to ignore, so people came just to ask what it was and ended up writing on it and chatting a bit with us.

P1120151

By night the “balloon” was full of small phrases and drawings. Without a doubt, most of the writings expressed wishes to be naked, dance, shout and smoke marihuana. It kept going like that for the whole festival. The next days we tried to stick to the festival perimeter, but it was impossible. I was excited and it was impossible not to bring the balloon to the Pride Parade, anti-Trump protests, and Veterans Day Parade. Suddenly we were in a city were EVERYTHING was happening. We deflated the balloon and went straight to the closing AiOP party. After the party, we went dancing at Stardust, a nightclub in downtown Orlando. It was our last night so we were both tired and thrilled.

P1120161

After a few hours and not few drinks, I started looking for my handbag as we decided to leave. I couldn`t find it anywhere and was desperate, as all our belongings were there: my wallet, ID’s, credit cards, drivers license, my cell phone (I had recently committed the stupidest thing and bought an expensive phone), and my boyfriend`s brand new camera with all the pictures from Oh Why Can`t I? Inside the bag were also both our passports and all the money from the stipend. Many people tried helping us, and there was even one girl who spent hours trying to calm me down. We retuned to the hotel and I cried myself to sleep.

P1120349

The next morning I woke up crying; we started to look for the Mexican Consulate, which obviously was closed, as it was Sunday. We were about to change our flights when a phone began to ring. I saw a white cell phone, which I assumed was the property of the girl who helped me the night before and gave it to me to look for mine. I answer the phone and a girl on the other side tells me about how she had lost her phone, purse and her jacket, and could not tell me how I ended up with her phone. I told her I lost my purse as well, and I supposed at some point in the night she had given me her phone to look for mine. We were not able to sort out that part. Finally she added, “but I do have someone else`s purse, it is somebody called Maria…”

P1120544

I jumped out of bed in excitement! “It`s mine! (My first name is Maria)” I said. We agreed to do the exchange at her hotel, which was 45 minutes away from ours. When we got there, we tried to recreate what had happened the night before. Apparently she saw me looking for my bag but did not pay much attention, when she left the club she took my bag by mistake, as both purses where black. I have had many nights of partying; I know things tend to get lost along with the memories of the night before. She told me that the only thing she remembered was arriving at her hotel in a cab and not being allowed in, since a drunk, sleepy woman without any identifications does not have much of a chance to get into a hotel room.

IMG_8936

She spent about an hour convincing the people from the hotel that she really was who she said she was. They let her in, but she had to open her computer and show them identifications, emails, etc. When they left she fell asleep and forgot about the whole thing until the next morning when she found out that she had taken the wrong purse, and the only thing she had with her was her work phone. We exchanged our things, laughed for a while and said good-bye. Before I left, I quickly checked the things inside the bag. My phone was missing; we looked for it around the room but it wasn`t there. I felt a bit sad but thought it a minimal loss. We left the hotel and had a late breakfast at what every online tourist forum recommended as the best place to have breakfast in Orlando.

IMG_8935

We flew back to Mexico City; on the plane I was reviewing what I would write on the report to the lost and found police department, and I planned to call my new friend`s hotel in case somebody returned my phone. I was determined to get it back. That was on Sunday. On Monday, I was getting used to the idea of freeing myself from a cell phone and walking with my head high when the last piece of the puzzle revealed itself to me. I was cleaning my purse when a business card slipped out from the outside pocket. It was a taxi card with a phone number on it; a very strange thing as we rented a car during our time in Orlando and never had to call a cab. I dialed the number and a Porto Rican accent answer the phone. I tried to explain the story, but I was only confusing the man. He told me that he indeed took my friend to her hotel after driving to Sea World and near Disney World, as he wasn`t able to understand where she wanted to go. “She wanted to go to Las Palmeras but kept saying Los Palermo,” said the driver. When they finally arrived to her destination, she asked him to wait downstairs while she went up to her room to get money to pay to him. He asked her to give him something in case she didn`t come back and she gave him a (my) phone. The driver then, very wisely, put his card inside her (my) bag in case she in fact, didn`t come back and would be looking for her phone the next day.

IMG_8933

I called my friend to tell her this and immediately she contacted the man to settle her debt and got the phone back. She sent it to Houston, where a cousin of mine lives and was coming to visit in a few days. In the end, both of us got all of our stuff, but to this day we couldn’t figure out why I had her phone. Her things were safely at Stardust and it`s probably best that the phone part of the story remains a mystery.

 

Coincidences and surprises

 

To work in public space always involves two elements that are very close to each other: chance and surprise. More than a space of casual encounters, public space (the street) is an ideal terrain in which infinite elements of surprise await in every step we take.

Surprises can become coincidences when we are open and sensitive enough to let “things happen” and, literally, let go. These surprises turn into coincidences, build our stories, teach us lessons, and structure our immediate futures and the way we narrate them.

P1120179

The series of drifts made as part of Oh Why Cant` I ?, involve making decisions that are taken consciously and unconsciously but, aside from that fact, the combination of coincidences and surprises leads to a formal situation that builds statements. In that sense, the result of the piece is built both by the people who did participate and by the people who didn’t. In the same way, I found my lost bag and cell phone because this particular girl (and not another girl) took it by mistake. Furthermore, the cell phone that I ended up having was property of the girl who took my bag and not any other girl.

P1120327

By suppressing the conscious decisions that were made in this sequence of events and, only considering the non-controllable factors such as coincidences and surprises, a series of linked events is constructed. The one event would not happen without the other; everything engages in a consequential chain and non-controllable elements lead to wonderful things. AiOP is a great opportunity to experiment in-situ, as a growing desire for being surprised awakens in visitors. They look for coincidences and are open to “things to happen”. Artistic work of these characteristics must be resilient, they must be open to being surprised, flexible to change and sensitive to opportunities.

P1120089

 

Oh Why Can`t I…? Is an action that comes up from a simple question: What can I do or don`t do in a public space? That arose from the impossibility to develop a previous project, which originally was designed to cling to certain elements of the city. Oh Why Can`t I…? is an object that gathers people`s wishes on a certain matter and exposes them publicly without attaching or adhering to any physical element of the urban sphere. If you want to know about this piece please send me an email to: elenamupe@gmail.com.

 

http://www.artinoddplaces.org/artists/munoz-elena/