How is the project operated?
Garden Party/Arts is an artist-run organization.
How long has it been in existence?
What was your motivation?
Being an unrepresented artist in New York City can be very difficult. Not only is it hard to find venues to exhibit work publicly, but the occasional group show here-and-there usually doesn’t facilitate the critical discussion a lot of us desire. GP/A began as an attempt to address this issue, out of our personal professional frustrations.
As the project developed, we realized the inherently feminist motivation at work. Incorporating artists’ texts and an invitation-only dinner party with each show, along with the general reception, has become a strategy of empowerment and intervention. Being able to frame the discussion around exhibitions in feminist terms is about celebrating the accomplishments of individual artists, while also insisting on our belief that feminism is as relevant now as it has ever been.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project. Who is responsible for the programming?
Each show is collaborative with the particular artists involved, but GP/A was founded by E.E. Ikeler and Ariel Roman.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
Exhibitions occur approximately once a month. Originally conceived as a Summer project, what happens this Fall is still to be determined. Shows are hosted in donated outdoor spaces, so they are only open to the public for one day- generally the last Saturday of the month.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Each show is a two-day event: a four hour reception for the artists and the public on Saturday, followed by an invitation-only dinner party on Sunday.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Griselda Pollock once suggested meaningful feminist intervention would “form complex installations, documentations and events, which aim to create a signifying space in which the historical changes wrought by feminism can be perceived and represented while others still more radical can be imagined.” Our approach is not overly determined, but this seems like a good place to start.
What’s working? What’s not working?
The support for the project in its feminist aims has been overwhelmingly positive from the community we’ve reached so far, so we’re feeling really good about our present and future. Because we want the relationships with our artists to be mutually beneficial, there is some desire to have funding to cover their, if not our own, costs. We’re still a brand new organization, so these things will work themselves out as we grow. In the meanwhile, there’s nothing too painful in the labor of love.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We want to make a space that insists on the importance of feminist and queer issues as they relate to contemporary art. Rather than address a specific community that exists already, we’re doing our thing and trying to remain approachable for those interested in participating.
Regarding our local community, our events occur in Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn because that’s where we live, but we’re not attempting to claim these neighborhoods, and we certainly don’t represent them in their complexity. Similarly, we don’t exactly know who our arts community is yet. Naturally it begins with our friends and neighbors, but we want to be open to voices we haven’t yet heard and faces we haven’t yet seen.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
There is an element of optimism that some of the goals of feminism have in fact been played out already- or are being played out- in the work of contemporary artists. Maybe the problem isn’t just the persistence of sexism and misogyny (the acknowledgment of which is still necessary) but also the invisibility of some of this progress. As artists, we’re interested in these topics aesthetically, conceptually, and politically. The dream is to be able to frame the discussion in a way that does not reinforce the oppositional binaries of sexual difference, while not denying the particular subjectivities we as individuals exist and identify with.
More concretely, we’re looking forward to the rest of our summer and hopefully putting together a larger scale publication this fall. We’re hoping to look back on the shows and elaborate on their conceptual premises so we’ll be poised to begin again in the summer of 2013.
Images courtesy of Garden Party Arts.
Sarrita Hunn is the managing editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. Over the last decade, she has worked with many artist-run and alternative spaces and projects across the globe including recently at Koh-i-noor (Copenhagen, Denmark) with sponsorship from the Danish Arts Council. www.sarritahunn.com