Dear Readersby Phong Bui
Over three months ago, the Dedalus Foundation invited me to curate a two-month show (October 20 – December 15) at Industry City—its new satellite space in Sunset Park—to commemorate Hurricane Sandy’s one-year anniversary. Despite my myriad commitments—which included teaching a graduate seminar this fall; curating a show of a Santa Fe artist Allan Graham at Gallery Diet in Miami last month; preparing to celebrate the Miami Rail’s one year anniversary, assisting our friends in the Twin Cities with launching the Third Rail this upcoming November; and actualizing all the usual Brooklyn Rail responsibilities—I accepted their invitation, largely because I feel it is an important opportunity for all of us to pay homage to artists whose works were damaged by Sandy.
Now, a year after Sandy submerged hundreds of galleries and thousands of artworks in Brooklyn, Chelsea, and lower Manhattan in the cold, contaminated waters of the Hudson and East Rivers, everything about the experience looks and feels a bit different; but the devastation caused by the storm surge and the ways in which it transformed the New York art scene have not been forgotten. In the days and months since October 29, 2012, artists, gallerists, writers, and others from all strata of the art community have refused to be defeated, coming together to rebound and rebuild the spaces that they call home. Come Together: Surviving Sandy will be a testament to this creative, courageous phenomenon, and a monument to all those who lost something (and, somehow, incredibly, gained something) in the aftermath of this catastrophic event.
Recognizing the significance of such a project, the Dedalus Foundation, Industry City, and the Jamestown Charitable Foundation have happily offered us 66,000 square feet of space, plus a 40,000-square-foot courtyard to work with, and agreed to cover all costs of realizing such a large-scale project. The full program will consist of the two-month exhibition and several supplemental events, including music and dance performances, poetry readings, and panel discussions about conservation issues and preventive measures for future natural disasters.
There are over 300 artists in the exhibition, both known and unknown, older and younger. Fifty percent of the artists were affected by Sandy, such as Rita Ackermann, the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Beth Campbell, Diana Cooper, Mark di Suvero, Ron Gorchov, David Humphrey, Suzanne Joelson, Michael Joo, Josiah McElheny, Donald Moffett, Shirin Neshat, G. T. Pellizzi, Rona Pondick, Michelle Segre, Ray Smith, Gary Stephan, Daniel Turner, Dustin Yellin, and Lisa Yuskavage, among many others. The other half of the artists have come to join in the spirit of solidarity, and include Shoja Azari, Lynda Benglis, Francis Cape, Chuck Close, Rackstraw Downes, Alex Katz, Chris Martin, Jonas Mekas, Jo Nigoghossian, Tom Nozkowski, Superflex, Ellen Phelan, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Terry Winters, Joe Zucker, and many others.
One of the participants was right on when he half-jokingly remarked that the Surviving Sandy exhibition will be a kind of Woodstock for the art world. Like Woodstock, it will be a kind of rallying point around values that so many of us, both in and outside of New York, believe in and hold very dear. Through organizing this show, I am reaffirmed in what I most care about in the Rail’s mission: Love & Peace, Art & Culture. Not Politics & Business, Power & Perversion. Forty percent of the archives of the Rail and Rail Editions(our press, formerly Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions) was destroyed by the flood, along with 90 percent of my own work from the last 25 years. Yet I feel the potential for new growth. Meanwhile, our first priority is to make a COOL show, and have FUN! Above all, let’s support one another in such a brief life we live on earth.
P.S. Industry City is located at 220 36th Street in Brooklyn. The opening reception is Sunday, October 20, from 4 to 9 pm. Public transportation is available on the D, N, and R subway lines.
Also, on the behalf of the Rail, I would like to send our belated happy birthday wishes to the publisher of the Third Rail, the artist Cameron Gainer. May Occupy Rail be on its way to establish a firmament of arts and culture where writers and artists of all sorts can create, as written by my friend, the poet Vincent Katz, in his essay Filling the Emptiness quoting Edwin Denby, “the living images of real life.”