AVANT-GUIDE TO NYC: Discovering Absence at apexart
© Dexter Sinister, 2009
AVANT-GUIDE TO NYC: Discovering Absence, curated by Sandra Skurvida, on view through December 19th
Including work by: Julieta Aranda, caraballo-farman, Kabir Carter, Dexter Sinister, Eckhard Etzold, Andrea Geyer, Pablo Helguera, Nancy Hwang, Nina Katchadourian, Pia Lindman, Anna Lundh, Carlos Motta, Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere, Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, Katya Sander, Ward Shelley, Xaviera Simmons, and Alex Villar.
Finding our way around the city, we are navigating among interconnected pasts and presents of people, places, and events that make up the histories that we choose to investigate, record, and possibly reclaim. Avant-Guide to NYC maps these 'minor' histories in the cultural environment of New York of the twentieth century. Marcel Duchamp's studio, Art of This Century, and Group Material — where are these places, and what do they represent today, in the constantly shifting cultural topography of the city? Visits to many notable addresses reveal that current functional existence of the place — a store, a loft, or a street corner — has been estranged from its discursive role. The intent of this project is to resituate these places and their narratives in the time bend between past and present — in the actuality.
The theorist Michel de Certeau observed that 'New York has never learned the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts. Its present invents itself, from hour to hour, in the act of throwing away its previous accomplishments and challenging the future.' When Peggy Guggenheim converted two adjacent tailor shops into her renowned museum and gallery in 1942, she, with the architect Frederic Kiesler, created one of the most innovative art spaces; today, the top floor of 30 W 57th Street bears no sign of its storied past, having reverted to two tailor shops. Nevertheless, in order for Art of this Century to continue to play its role in the history of the avant-garde, its record — situated in the concrete space and time, and knowable through photographs, eyewitnesses' accounts, and 3D computer models — will have to be maintained.
This project started as a compendium and documentation of art sites in the city. Yet any attempt at documentation only confirms the fact that an investigative archive is not stable — it is responsive, evolves in time, and requires constant updating.