Here’s a map of Martha Clippinger’s installation works:

She’s installing today — We’re crossing our fingers for dry weather!


Lily’s map in progress …

I’m happy to announce that Jordanne Davis will act as curatorial assistant, and Diana Seo Hyung Lee will write the catalog essay.

Jordann Davis currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.  She documents audio / visual experiences for pleasure & posterity, and processes them via the written word. She earned a B.A. in Art History from Texas Tech University in 2009.

Diana Seo Hyung Lee is an MFA candidate in SVA’s Art Criticism and Writing Program. Her writing has appeared on and SVA’s degree critical blog. She recently completed a memoir of artist Michael Ashkin, which will be in print as part of the Art Criticism and Writing Program’s self-published zine. She sometimes also precariously assumes the role of an artist. Her artwork has been exhibited in Ithaca, NY, New York City, Englewood, NJ as well as Windhoek, Namibia.

I went to the Adirondacks on Labor Day weekend in search of a tree trunk I could use as the flag-pole for “Mayday”.

Something I’m hoping to do with my tour is to “frame” DUMBO from one conceptual angle and then another, through different bits of history and observation, in order to accumulate a rich (and sometimes conflicting) variety of associations with this one place.

Physically, DUMBO frames and re-frames itself constantly, and incorporates views of things that would seem contradictory. Without having to walk far at all, either bridge can look small and distant or towering and monumental. Part of DUMBO’s allure  (I think) is its sweeping view of Manhattan at a distance; but funnily enough, it also has enough space and sky to offer a lot of great views and angles on itself. Because of the waterfront location, gradually rising slope, mix of old and new architecture, and, of course, the presence of the bridges, virtually every time you turn your head you’re met with a striking (and often interestingly framed) picture.

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traditional vs. site-specific theatre, explained.

An illustration of the difference between traditional and site-specific plays, drawn for my mother at lunch today.

As I string together the different places and stories that make up this walking tour, I’m remembering a couple things I read recently in Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust:

When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.

We know how this works, the way that people connect to places: significant things happen in a certain spot, and that spot seems to contain a trace of that event. Inhabiting the space where something happened seems to have a special weight, be it personal or cultural: it’s why history classes take trips to empty fields (that maybe once were battlegrounds), or why returning to your childhood home can be such an emotional experience.

Doing the research for this tour has been an exercise in harvesting these “crops of memories” – and this kind of work makes me appreciate the funny, uneven layers of memory and history that are physically manifested in a neighborhood.

The way that cobblestone and railroad tracks sneak out from underneath pavement:

Seeing old commercial buildings, like the Eagle Warehouse, that have been converted into residences or artists’ work spaces,

Or noticing that some places are named after other now-gone places:

And though this tour isn’t exclusively historical, stringing together points of interest puts all these different moments and memories in conversation with each other, reminding me of Solnit’s other thought:

Part of what makes roads, trails and paths so unique as built structures is that they cannot be perceived as a whole all at once by a sedentary onlooker. They unfold in time as one travels along them, just as a story does as one listens or reads… a hairpin turn is like a plot twist, a steep ascent a building of suspense to the view at the summit, a fork in the road an introduction to a new storyline, arrival at the end of the story.

So with individual places containing stories, and the act of walking similar to telling or hearing a narrative, a walk that passes by landmarks, current businesses and residents, and the ongoing construction is a kind of meta-story, not just an experience that changes, but a narrative about change.

I really like seeing the words “historic” and “fabulous” right next to each other, in that order, on the bottom of this No. 1 Front Street plaque:

I was recently reading about Bill Bollinger’s work* when I came across a description of his 8-mm film from 1970 titled “Movie”. For 9 minutes Bollinger interacts with a 13 foot long wooden beam. Time and again he lifts it from one end, pushes it until it is vertical and tries to balance it on its other end. He lets go, the beam falls to the ground and Bollinger repeats his action, this time approaching the beam from the opposite end. In this minimalist film, the oscillation of Bollinger’s “pendulum” parallels the movement of the flag-pole in my piece “Mayday” – rising with the power of an individual pushing it up, and falling back as the person lets go. Repeat.

*Bollinger Art On The Fly, by Anne Rochette and Wade Saunders, Art In America, June 2011.

The Brooklyn Bridge’s iconic arches are a defining visual feature of DUMBO. For this year’s DUMBO Arts Festival, I propose to “fill” these negative spaces with brightly painted two-dimensional pieces of plywood, which will hang in various locations in DUMBO. These shapes, of various sizes, will hang in pairs from tree limbs, street signs, scaffolding, and other locations so that viewers may visually align them with the voids of the Brooklyn Bridge’s archways.

The shapes will maintain a similar design so that their repeated viewing by festival-goers will eventually create an association with the bridge’s arches and the project as a whole.  This installation will create an active viewing experience whereby participants will have to move around each sculpture in order to align the shapes with the voids.  This alignment will depend on the height of the viewer and his or her relationship to the shape and the bridge.  It will also encourage viewer participation through the searching and locating of the various installations, as if on an egg hunt.

In order to keep the shapes from blowing in the wind, they will be tied to nearby anchors, such as fences or trees, or in some cases, the shapes will be weighed down with string attached to large rocks or sandbags placed on the ground.

Each pair of shapes will be made of plywood coated with acrylic or latex paint.  The shapes will be anchored to nearby objects with wire or twine.  There is a chance that some shapes will be painted onto local storefronts’ windows, so that the viewers may experience the bridge from indoors.  This will be contingent on storeowners’ agreement.

The sites for this project will be scattered throughout DUMBO.  Some sites will be in parks, hanging from tree limbs, other sites may be fences on the side of the street.  All sights must be in view of one of the pairs of the Brooklyn Bridge’s archways.