Dear Friends and Readers,by Phong Bui
“The will to work must dominate, for art is long and time is brief.”
What a month this was, October 2014! While the two field marshals, Sara Roffino, the Rail Managing Editor; and Sara Christoph, the Rail Managing Director; held down the fort with our production assistants par excellence at our headquarters in Brooklyn, Maggie Barrett, Anna Tome, Cy Morgan, and I—the current Rail Curatorial Projects team—worked tirelessly with Max Wolf and Jennifer Cooper, the two extraordinary program managers of Red Bull Studios, along with Shan Raoufi, Benjamin Lightle, and their construction team (composed mostly of artists—for artists have worked on a freelance basis in this line of employment since the beginning of time, and this city is one endless construction site in need of constant upkeep), as well as with the relentless PR team led by Maureen Sullivan, Sherlen Archibald, Adam Gorode, and Steffi Muehlenkamp. We managed to complete the elaborate installation of Spaced Out: Migration to the Interior just a few minutes before the opening reception on Thursday, October 9. Whew!
The exhibition is a true sign of collaboration among our artist friends. Jim Lambie (led by the beautifully spirited Benny Merris and Julia Dotoli along with, once again, another group of artists) executed his floor installation, which was only his second ever in New York City (the first was in Ann Temkin’s exhibit Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today at MoMA in 2008). Additionally, Jim had never welcomed the placement of other works of art atop his floors before, but in this case he did. The site-specific works of Joe Amrhein, Tamara Gonzales, Will Ryman, and Kazumi Tanaka also thrilled us. The spirit of comradery was equally applied by the rest of the artists, including Gregory Crewdson, Cao Fei, Keltie Ferris, Sylvie Fleury, Robert Gober, Deborah Kass, Jon Kessler, Charles LeDray, Chris Martin, Takeshi Murata, John O’Connor, Roxy Paine, Bruce Pearson, Rona Pondick, Ugo Rondinone, Alexander Ross, Mika Rottenberg, Peter Saul, James Siena, Philip Taaffe, Fred Tomaselli, Ryan Trecartin, Leo Villareal, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Lisa Yuskavage, Yoshihide Sodeoka, Eva Papamargariti, Faith Holland, Michael Mallis & Mikey McParlane, Alexander Dupuis, and Brenna Murphy. Richard Tuttle, who is just back from installing a large-scale sculpture commission in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and a survey of his textile works at Whitechapel Gallery in London, will be contributing his site- specific piece to the ceiling in early November. I appreciate everyone’s trust to allow this unconventional vision of curation, which entails an immediate response to the specificity of the space and the sentiment it evokes. The process requires a delicate balance between excitement and high anxiety.
Meanwhile, we hosted our first program at the show, a line-up of psychedelic poetry read by the poets Patricia S. Jones, Vincent Katz, Mike Lala, Matt Longabucco, Connie Mae Oliver, Brett Price, Jessica Rogers, and Karen Weiser. The occasion brought to mind the title of Aldous Huxley’s popular book The Doors of Perception, taken from a line of William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” (Eleven years later, Huxley’s book also inspired Jim Morrison to name his band The Doors, in 1965.) Timothy Leary’s psychedelic prayers came next to mind, created as poems in the form of a manual—inspired by Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching—and encouraged to be read during psychedelic trips. The idea this work embodied was consciousness as a Heraclitean flux, constantly in flow and in a permanent state of becoming. Blake, a figure who offered a different path than the one proposed by the philosophers, thinkers, and writers of the Age of Enlightenment—a time when rationality, reason, and science presided over inspiration or spirit—was also a poet who understood that one of the functions of poetry is its capacity for producing images, whether overt in some cases or extremely subtle in others.
I hope that when you come and see the exhibit you will find all the works of art installed as a mutual dialogue, insofar as the images, textures, sizes, materials, techniques, and sentiments are related among themselves in a variety of ways, as well as to the theme and the surrounding space. After all, the aim of a work of art is to be seen, and the goal of an exhibit is to further the potential and willingness of not just the curator, the artists, and the benefactors, but of you, the viewer, to be part of the experience. We all depend on each other to remind ourselves that art is long, and time is short.
Onward my friends,
P.S. We’ll keep you posted with our forthcoming events. Meanwhile, please join us for:
Art and Psychedelics: A Panel Discussion
Moderated by Hamilton Morris and Nese Devenot
Participants: Deborah Kass, Chris Martin,
Bruce Pearson, Fred Tomaselli, and Ken Johnson.
Saturday, November 22nd, 4 – 6pm
Red Bull Studios
220 West 18th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)