Contemporary, no. 88, 2006


By Jessica Kraft

. . . . For the past two years, visitors to the Harlem-based gallery Triple Candie have not seen any original artwork by contemporary artists. Eschewing art entirely, the gallery has engagedand satirised the conventions of contemporary art galleries, even staging a retrospective of the elusive artist David Hammons' entire oeuvre in photocopies. Most recently, the married curatorial team, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, mounted a massive institutional critique with the show "The Problem with Triple Candie." Their cavernous space, once the site of a Manhattan brewery, was filled with a mountain of cascading tarp, the underside of which revealed a hideout cover where visitors could read the gallery's critical manifesto with the aid of an emergency lamp. The manifesto contained the voices of possible interrogators and critics, and sought to clarify the gallery's unpopular theoretical position. As a non-profit venue operating in a historically disadvantaged African-American community, the curators said they feel pressure to engage with the social ideals of uplift and education. Yet the gallery remains an outpost of critical inquiry, and refuses to become a community center. "Why haven't you formed a relationship with the Studio Museum?" the manifesto demanded. "You don't seem to like artists very much," it assailed. Fittingly, the next exhibition planned at the space for winter 2007 wil creatively re-interpret a show down at the Met in the late 60s. "Harlem on My Mind" was the first major institutional exhibition to cover the African-American community and effectively validate its culture, yet it also had no art.

Art galleries without art, curators without artists, what's next? ...


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