As the private sector continues to expand and government regulations continue to intrude on the public realm, Art in Odd Places 2006, a collection of 25 local artists exhibiting in unexpected Lower East Side locations, will address the question of public space and whether or not it's really so public. Referring to the dialogues that will hopefully be prompted by artists' work, the project's director, Ed Woodham, wonders, "If public space is in a policed state, where else might we have these discussions?" Needless to say, spaces requiring permits were not included in the exhibition.
Woodham notes that Art in Odd Places is "a rebellion against the commodification of art." He explains that the audience is not necessarily "someone with an art history awareness or an education that includes what's good art and what's bad art." The show goes a long way toward breaking down some of the barriers still existing between high and low culture not only is it open to everyone and anyone, but the artists were recruited via an open call, and the art included in the project runs the gamut, with a particular emphasis on less traditional media, including sound, video, performance and landscape art.
Flint Butera, a NYC street artist for the past 16 years, will be contributing his mixed media work, which treats book covers in a collage style and focuses on themes of bondage. Before all you salacious folks out there get too excited, know that "Tied to the City" won't be just another scantily clad look at commercial sexuality. Quite the contrary, Butera explores what it means to be tied down-emotionally or even by the prospect of death. Still, the racy pieces will be on display at Sunflower Video and Porn on Essex. Butera explains that he chose a porn shop because he wanted to examine sex in a way that has "nothing to do with sex in a place that's all sex."
Art in Odd Places also includes Gretchen Vitamvas' performance, "Subwear," which involves uniforms inspired by both subway car interiors and standard military fatigues and is intended to raise questions of class and ethnicity as well as safety. Kara Dunne's performance, "Bathroom Vignettes: Scenes in a Bathroom," examines the opposing sides of the public restroom-a public space intended for private acts.
In addition to artists' work, Art in Odd Places will host a free discussion panel on September 20th at the 14th Street Y regarding alternative public exhibition spaces. Speakers will include Bill Brown, who's involved with the Surveillance Camera Players-a group that protests the use of surveillance cameras in public places by performing before the unseen eye. Such bureaucratic issues threaten public spaces, but Art in Odd Places reminds us of their function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the uncontrolled exchange of ideas.
Visit www.artinoddplaces.org for more information.