Opening Hidden Art

Opening Hidden Art

by Christina Dideriksen for COMPANY

(August 18, 2011) Last night I checked out the opening of “Christmas in the Summer” at The Hole, a newish art space run by Kathy Grayson, former director of the Deitch Projects. I was eager to check out The Hole, which promises to showcase a continuing rotation of emerging and experimental artists.  The Hole’s mission is to, “fill the hole in the creative downtown community.” Sadly, last night’s offering has yet to win me over.

Christmas in the Summer is a “conceptual bi-coastal art show” curated by Derrick Harden and Laura O’Reilly. It features four of Kathy Grayson’s paintings, all of which have been wrapped in solid green paper so you can’t actually see the work for sale. Harden and O’Reilly have created a downloadable audio tour, also available on a handful of in-house iPods, through which they describe each of the hidden pieces.  They say hiding the paintings is “a reaction to the free proliferation of imagery both in the art world and in general” and ask us to question the “machinery of the art gallery system” that makes art for “an unreachable exclusive income bracket.”

Conceptual art is an acquired taste that I happen to enjoy—one of my favorite being Caleb Larsen’s “A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter”—a black cube with an Ethernet cable that immediately lists itself for sale once it has been purchased—but I was disappointed overall by this offering. Harden and O’Reilly’s audio guide is a scant 9 minutes long. Staring at the masked work, I longed for a more thorough and engaging description. Grayson’s paintings weren’t originally intended to be hidden. The curators have imposed this element on her work, no doubt with her permission as she owns the space. Because of this, I wish the audio had spoke more about her use of “data-moshing,” a fascinating technique celebrated by underground video artists like Takeshi Murata.

While a party, the opening event did little to help the presentation. With the music pumping and the drinks flowing, the art seemed not just hidden, but forgotten. Meanwhile the small few trying to consider the art were stuck behind hard to hear headphones. The art is priced between $2K - $4K, yet felt insignificant.

Perhaps I am exposing my own bias. One of the catalysts that drove COMPANY was the disassociation we felt as collectors within the art community once a piece is purchased. Artist collectives and artistically rich communities like Brooklyn’s Bushwick are just some of the ways artists engage with each other. In addition to our online community, COMPANY’s The Collector Series strives to bring that experience artists enjoy to the collector. In a Collecter Series evening the art and our engagement with it is the primary focus, the drinks an after thought. 

The evening and the show did bring to mind the old philosophical argument- to what extant does “art” require participation by both a creator and an audience? This is something that interests me deeply, so maybe I’ll need to check out Christmas in the Summer again.

NEW YORK: “Christmas in the Summer”
Open to the Public: Thursday August 18th-Monday August 23rd
Location: Cappellini 152 Wooster St between Houston & Prince, SoHo NY
Hours: Weekday 11-7pm, Weekend 12-6pm
LOS ANGELES: “Christmas in the Summer” opens December 2011 at Cappellini
8950 Beverly Boulevard West Hollywood, CA

Great article! I've been meaning to check out that gallery for a while.

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