BAM has a new addition to the evolving façade of the Peter Jay Sharp Building at 30 Lafayette Ave, along with David Byrne’s typographic bike racks. Round the corner onto Ashland and you will be greeted by the latest BAMart: Outdoors installation, a series of three surreal sculptures by a coalition of street artists from Brooklyn’s DIY community.
Be advised: these sculptures serve a purpose beyond their ornate and arresting strangeness. In response to the quotidian nature of newspaper boxes, SHOWPAPER proposed an ambitious project for the BAMart: Outdoors initiative called Brooklyn Shelf Life that would introduce a radical twist to periodical distribution in the BAM neighborhood. Throughout the coming year, these sculptural repositories will house a revolving series of independent print publications from Chelsea-based Printed Matter, a nonprofit dedicated to the creation and promotion of artist-made publications, as well as SHOWPAPER, a free biweekly print-only comprehensive listing of all-ages shows in New York that features full-color prints from young underground artists.
|SWOON + Ryan C. Doyle|
Brooklyn Shelf Life is infused with a collaborative spirit. The boxes are a result of artist pairings curated by Andrew H. Shirley featuring Leon Reid IV and Noah Sparkes, Cassius Fouler and Faust, and SWOON and Ryan C. Doyle. Jesse Hlebo, founder of small press/record label Swill Children, will curate the print rotation in collaboration with Printed Matter and SHOWPAPER. Together these artists are finding new and inspired ways to assert the relevance of print in the digital age, creating opportunities for a wealth of artists to share their printed work with the community.
Joe Ahearn, Managing Director of SHOWPAPER, fielded questions about the project:
Can you give us some background and insight on SHOWPAPER?
SHOWPAPER is a single sheet of newsprint that acts as a free, full-color print on one side, and on the reverse, an index of all the All Ages music events (those accessible to everyone, regardless of how old they are). These include large and small performance spaces, but SHOWPAPER's long-standing relationship with the New York City's DIY music community provides it with the most comprehensive listings of that scene than any other similar publication or website. Run by an entirely volunteer staff, SHOWPAPER has been around for over four years, and has printed almost 150 issues, each with a different artist. Every two weeks, 10,000 copies are distributed through a grassroots network of galleries, houses, record stores, schools, and venues. Avoiding the ad-driven model for many publications, we run primarily on the support of the community of audience members and the venues we represent.
|Leon Reid IV + Noah Sparkes|
How did the Brooklyn Shelf Life project come about?
Brooklyn Shelf Life evolved out of exploration of alternative ways to distribute print and exhibit artwork in New York City. The explosion of the internet's role in all of our lives, and the ease which we access and share "media," distracts us from a city with shrinking space for real-life public interaction and the transmission of ideas. This project is about converting a banal object like a distribution box and turning it into a platform of expression.
|Cassius Fouler + Faust|
With the sculpture series in place, the second phase of this project is the publications. Curated in collaboration between SHOWPAPER, Printed Matter, and Jesse Hlebo, Jesse gave all the artists the following prompt:
"Is something truly ‘independent’ if other organizations aid its creation? Can there be freedom within a structure whose purpose is to allow freedom while still remaining a structural presence?"
Then, with an artist’s fee and materials budget, it was up to the artists. There are six already in rotation, and we'll be highlighting a new one every two weeks. Sumi Ink Club designed a series of mind games (including a free download of all of Lucky Dragons’ music catalog). Asher Penn created a poster that reads "Get A Job" in Hebrew, in vibrant yellow and purple. Erik Van Der Weijde created a whole newspaper of vintage war tanks. Accompanying the series and SHOWPAPER in the boxes every month will be a pamphlet with information about the participating artists.
The Brooklyn Shelf Life newspaper boxes will be on display at BAM 24/7 through June 2013.