Catalogue | Souvenirs | E-mail | Links
«A rough sketch of an entry, about overwhelming sadness, a burned cat, and that phone that made me realize that I am very alone. | Front | One more overheard conversation in an elevator going down, in 45 Main Street, in Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York... »

October 17, 2004
How a visit to dumbo turns into yet another lesson about life in water and life and water... I used to be a very pale vegetarian, yet still one who would go to steak houses to have lunch. Dumbo has opened its doors. The ones that probably mattered most were studio doors, of course. I did not know what to expect of the arts festival until I exited the very packed F train at the York street station. There were crowds of people down Jay Street, there were crowds on Front, crowds at the entrances to warehouses. I arrived at around 4:30 or so, and with very little time left in the day, I had to focus my visit: enter, see, find. The menue in a steak house can easily look like one single dish. Having particular allergies can make the best stocked supermarket appear empty. The largest city, packed with humans, can feel very much like a desert when seen through the eyes of a lonely immigrant. My first stop was 68 Jay Street, Studio 821, Melissa Zexter. The map suggests that Zexter is a multi media artist as well as a photographer. Indeed, one part of her multi media layers are photographs of what I remember being suburban landscapes and maybe even people. The more linear medium used in connection with the photographs is thread, sawn through the images, thread shaping into flowers and lines and various patterns. The connection between image and the treaded drawing works well. Here are some examples. Because of the thread actually penetrating the surface, the density of the drawing can not go as far as the ink on photograph explosions by Sebastiaan Bremer, of course, but maybe that�s actually quite good. I enjoyed the pieces I saw very much. I did not stay long, time was running out. - Hey, look, there is Jen coming from the station. - this means the day is almost over. She wanted to come by with Anne. - eeew, who are these guys with them? - oh, Grandpas? Just some new catch. So f*cking ironic. The next stop on my list happened to be in the same building. Studio 617, Marianne McCarthy. Photography and Multimedia. The photographs here were larger, though seemingly taken of completely controlled, or even created environments. I remember a beach umbrella, a chair. I remember them being possibly not really what they seemed... I should have probably paid more attention. The artist was busy. The sculptor, draftswoman with whom she shares the studio was not even there, but here was the work that caught my attention: Laura McCallum seems to be working in the field of sculptural cartography, three dimensional drawings, elevation lines, color codes. (And she creates great work doing that, I think.) Then there are some colorfully lush semi-sculptures, valleys cut into what seems to be pages of thick-paper-books. As if some amazing force had harvested the material in a very intelligent way and in the process discovered that somebody before had also had a good time creating sediment after sediment after sediment. A purposeful process. The results can definitely not be understood by looking at them as jpegs, though, here is an example and here. Nearby, on tables, organic objects, often arranged into primary dual symmetries, held in their space my flat vanes of thread?, maybe rubber? The colors here softer? At least as far as I remember. I am very intrigued. - do you want to draw something into Laura's book? - daada - here, nice - daaa daaaaaaa - excuse me, young lady, would you mind if I borrow your pen? - the pen - pen - yes, give the man the pen. - pen - thank you - say you're welcome - daa daaaaa Next stop, Matt Dojny's studio (702). In the middle of the floor is a black circle in which black colored clay animals appear to have been captured making a last attempt of brokering a deal with weapons and toys and other hand sized objects. Everything within the circle is pitched. Studio visitors have to stay close to the walls, out of the giant center, not to disturb the magical gathering. Work on the walls appears to use one very particular kind of square material. Some paintings by the windows are arranged like fourteen inch records in a second hand store. A visitor browses the drawn and painted covers. Was there music, perhaps? A group of people placed themselves under a fully stocked loft near the entrance. I do not stay long. I take some postcards. They are very amazingly printed, the drawing on them slightly raised off the semi glossy paper. The piece is called "After the Afterlife." I am glad I got one, or three... And I go on. - so I tell him that this is like, pseudo real or something? and he is like...? - he is such a jerk. - yeah?, i mean, please?, like we did not see that? My next and last stop happens to be in a different building. 45 Main Street, is above the West Elm store, a place where the elevators were designed by somebody who loves very low lighting and multicolored lamps trapped in plexi glass rods attached to the walls at odd angles. Two people with a giant heavy desk leave the elevator as I enter. I follow the signs with drawings of a dog shooting a rifle. I find a sign: "Hunting Party at 4:00" this is the expansive studio of Polish born Dutch artist Monika Zarzeczna. The rooms here have very high ceilings, there are no windows to disturb the industrial strength neon light. I enter the location and am greeted by what appears to be temple gods, staring into the room from larger than life sheets of unrolled paper. Some drawings did not make it to the wall. They remain rolled up, on the floor. Two are half unrolled. The faces of what appear to be portraits of certain types, rather than actual people, are drawn with very precisely set multiple lines of pencil. All wear clothing which is strong in color, often decorated with high contrast ornamentation which completely ignores the presence of a body. Paintings? Drawings? Painted drawings? Drawn paintings? I find the work very interesting. The energy is very intriguing. While in many other studios the results felt as if they were barely burning candles surrounded by polished magnifying glasses, the light here is an anti airplane search light, the glass taped shut in a way that allows only for a soft glow to leave the device. I speak with Monika, I shake hands with her husband. We speak, in Polish, about how poor Polish must be. She left when she was seven. I left at eleven. I somehow have the feeling she left after me... I see more drawings, smaller ones, drawn on thirty year old paper that refused to fall apart completely, even though it was stored in a drawer, somewhere in Poland. (I forget to ask where.) We admit to each other how important it was in our lives that each one of us left Poland at an early age, we admit to each other a certain level of self imposed restraint, we admit to each other how important it was for each one of us to at some point in our lives to meet Amy Cutler. I am told that the studio space will soon be taken over by West Elm for storage. Monika will be looking for a new studio by the end of the year. I acknowledge that it might be difficult to find a place large enough to continue with her monumental drawings. "Ja jestem jak zlota rybka," she says, "ja sie potrafie dopasowac to mojego akwarium." (I am like a goldfish, I have the ability to adjust to the size of my fish-tank.) I feel as if she had just told me the message I had been trying to find for months now. Just a few minutes later I am a simple observer again. Friends arrive with some liquor. They seems to be band members of a concert just passed. They joke and are amazed about the now missing giant table. "These people just had to have it. They ordered a car service. But the car service never called back. They probably are still outside, waiting for the car? Is it raining?" I have seen everything I wanted to see. I have not seen everything I hoped to see. I feel calm. I am done. I am ready to leave. I leave the room, I leave the floor, I leave the building, I leave some money at starbucks, I leave some words, here, there, I leave dumbo, in the right direction. I do not really leave. I am like an octopus. I have the ability to adjust to ...anything... The menue of a steak house looks like a single dish, when seen with the eyes of a pale and uninformed vegetarian. The biggest city can appear like a desert... It is getting colder these days. drawing � monika zarzeczna