Segway to the Danger Zone

Alaina Stamatis

Kid from my high school weaving around NYPD barriers on a Segway.

BOOKLYN ARTISTS ALLIANCE

It was in that very area – that slightly underdeveloped portion of West Greenpoint, past the Live Poultry Slaughter and nearing the water's edge – where I first learned about handmade books; a first glance at the notion, which would lead to a flirtation with small presses and later a series of wet dreams about artist books. So it was perfectly healthy and natural to hear that Booklyn, dedicated to the distribution, exhibition, and publishing of all three styles of print, was off the corner of Greenpoint and Franklin.
Booklyn threw a party to celebrate the release of the second Awkhold (a slur of “Awkward to Hold”) created and curated by Jason Kachadourian. Booklyn's front room displayed a six-foot arc of varnished hardcover books; across from which was a Brooklyn Lager bar manned by a strawberry blond with mutton chops. A large white table in the center of the exhibition space was checkered with clear plastic seven-inch sleeves, which were delicately stuffed with unbound prints, including work by Erin Womack, Crystal Stokowski, Sam Kalda, Aimee Lusty, Christine Buckton Tillman, a guy from the band Zomes, people from Baltimore, and the curator's very charming girlfriend Annemieke Beemster Leverenz.
(Sam Kalda, happy as a clam.)
Jason's mom had a piece in the show: a steel Bingo cage on a pedestal, full of erasers; on each eraser was an intricate pencil drawing of a national monument (of the “purple mountains majesty” variety), so as you turned the cage's crank, the erasers collided and diluted each other's memory. I spent a few minutes trying to convince Sto from Cinders and Dubknowdub to co-opt her idea, replacing the erasers with objects that emit colored dust, miking the cage, and plopping it in the childseat of a shopping cart. He said he'd think about it.
Rating: 3 weed leaves
The initial stimuli upon entering the Showpaper Armory kick-off party at Meulensteen Gallery in Chelsea were: a Brooklyn Lager and white wine bar, the calming thumps of minimalist house, a four-foot stack of letter-size paper with an alt artist statement printed on each sheet, and a large-scale photograph of a filthy motorbike camouflaged by the dirty mountain behind it; all of which were enjoyable for me. Someone picked up a sheet from the tall stack and yelled “Thanks interns!” for creating such a neat, arduous pile.
Behind the free-standing wall with the dirtbike photo was a large white room decorated with crisp, neutral-toned photos and collages; in the corner Logan Takahashi from Teengirl Fantasy hovered over his synth-and-sampler set-up and grooved. Meulensteen had a downstairs portion with an unrelated art show that was opening that very night, but because the work in that area was unprotected (without glass), drinks weren't allowed nearby; and because drinks were prohibited I only saw evidence of it once, while waiting in line for the bathroom.
The (upstairs) gallery was full of tall people wearing great shoes. Ari, a group of friends and I posed in front of a collage of tundra with an astronomical skyline, and a stranger took a photo of us with Ari's iPhone.
Ric (of Ad Hoc and International Tapes) deejayed remotely: from the photo pose, from standing next to cute girls in the crowd, and from the alchy line. And then tape-collage artist Nonhorse (AKA G. Lucas Crane) jammed, also with a sort of minimalist, crowd-grooving appeal, despite being surrounded by his notorious pile of multi-colored-and-doodled-all-over casettes. Then he yanked out an endoscopic camera (yanno, the one that usually goes in butts) and craned it around the gallery space, projecting its findings onto the wall behind him.
Rating: 4 weed leaves
ST PATRICK'S OLD CATHEDRAL SCHOOL
The old Parochial school on Mott and Prince, which housed a solid portion of the New Museum's Festival of New Ideas and the most recent Performa, is currently home to the SPRING/BREAK Art Show. SPRING/BREAK's claim to fame is that each classroom or hallway or teacher's lounge is not assigned to an artist but rather to a curator, whose “installation” is in his or her choice of artists and similarly-themed pieces and presumably some of their presentation. The show stands as a youthful answer to the Armory Arts Week, with some of the short-sightedness that youth brings.
Tagging along with the two-person film crew for artnet, I attended the preview hours on the opening evening. We went straight to the courtyard, where unmarked wooden police barriers and podiums painted NYPD blue (literally) were strewn across the ground, and a kid from my high school was riding around these obstacles on a Segway wearing a black letterman jacket that read, “Putting Away Childish Things,” in sentimental typography.
The work in the courtyard is titled, “SYNTHETIC VERTIGO: 001 Memory Foam”; by nature of the curator-as-artist, area as art show, it is considered a “solo show” by Dora Budor and Maja Cule, curated by DeltaKane. Together, the two artists scripted an audio tour in the style of a traditional museum headset – but presumably devolving into lunacy, off-coloredness, and maybe some sort of life lesson – which is heard through white headphones as Dora or Maja ride tandem on a Segway with whomever signed their waiver. (DeltaKane curated a model boat racing competition last summer in Berlin, and Dora and Maja entered to win.)
I watched two audio tours, which were totally silent except for every minute or so, when the guest yelled one of the following: “I'm happy to be enjoying this free audio tour“; “This exhibition closes at 9 o'clock”; “This is incredibly ironic and sad”; “I'm so excited”; “I think about it a lot”; and finally, “I'm loving it.” The reasoning behind this über-minimal performative aspect was lost on me.
According to Alex Freedman, the curator present, “SYNTHETIC VERTIGO” needed to take place in a sizable, private outdoor space because Segways are illegal on New York City streets (despite Bloomberg's supportive condolences to Segway lobbyists in 2009), which is a sensible law because Segways are retarded and slow. The Segways in the courtyard had to be imported from Connecticut.
However, the kid from my high school took me for a quick tandem ride, standing behind me and steering as I leaned on the handlebar stem to accelerate, and it was exactly like that scene in Titanic 3-D where Kate Winslet tells Leo that she's flying.
(We did a little filming in the bathroom.)
SPRING/BREAK is haunted by the ghosts of its Catholic venue; despite the Mary of Nazareth statue defiantly faced toward a wall in the courtyard, nothing in any classroom, on any floor, was put up without the approval of the Parish. So there's nothing bloody, nothing gay, and only brief flashes of nipple. I remember a narrated four-wall video in black and white, where every screen was exactly the same; I remember inflatable Christmas decorations resewn into jumbled nonsense; I remember a painting of a dented GMC with bubbles of tiger flesh in the background; I remember a log with a positive inscription, and a video of little girls with birthday cakes as top hats; I remember a man pretending to be a hobo, scribbling in pencil on an elementary school desk; I remember the beer and wine bar, and I remember leaving as soon as my friends would let me.
Rating: 2 weed leaves
Cell phone pix courtesy of Alaina Stamatis and the Droid Pro. Want Impose to check out your party? Email cruisecorp@imposemagazine.com and we'll stop by!

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