Address: 495 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Hours: Visitors are encouraged to schedule appointments.
How is the project operated?
helper is an artist-run studio and project space.
How long has it been in existence?
We signed the lease in February 2012 and spent a few weeks building out the space into three studios, a workshop, and project space. We’ve been working in the space for just about six months.
What was your motivation?
When we started looking for space, our only wish was to find a studio close to home. We had been in situations where we were commuting 30-45 minutes to get to our studios. The idea of a starting gallery or project space had not been part of the discussion until we stepped foot into this affordable storefront with an unusually large amount of space. Having a place to develop shows and invite other artists do show their work became a very attractive idea, so much so that we decided to sacrifice larger studios in order to leave room for the project space.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
How are programs funded?
There is absolutely no pressure to make money by selling work or finding sponsors. helper is an extension of our studios and the rent we each pay covers the expense of having the project space. It gives us a lot of freedom to do whatever the fuck we want.
Who is responsible for the programming? (Curators, Directors, etc)
Sean Slemon and I [Zerek Kempf] manage the space. We each have studios there along with Nathan Gwynne, a helper studio artist. We all have opportunities to realize exhibitions and other events.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
We’d like to do eight or nine exhibitions a year, each lasting around a month.
What kind of events are usually organized?
We have openings for each exhibition. Our openings feel like open studio events because we keep the entire space open. In addition to exhibitions we have plans to host one-night events like performances, talks, and film screenings in the backyard space.
How is your programming determined?
So far we have been working independently on programming. We’ve loosely assigned each other a few months out of the year to decide what happens in the space. Whoever is responsible for programming during a certain month has the option to curate or extend an invitation to someone else to develop an exhibition.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Not at this time.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
helper is still taking shape. Right now we want it to be a place that encourages collaborative projects and dialogue between the artists and curators involved.
What’s working? What’s not working?
We began with a casual approach to how we manage the space. I’d say it’s still casual, but we’re learning that we need to define clearer terms regarding the treatment of the space and how decisions are made.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
helper is named after literary archetypes that appear in Franz Kafka novels. Helpers embody a role that assists the protagonist in ways similar to that of the elementary classmate who showed you pornography for the first time on the playground after school.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We could be finished in a year, I don’t really know. helpers don’t have a firm place in the world. Everything feels so unscripted right now and I think it’s working for us.
Images courtesy of helper.
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