On the Necessity of Thinking Big: A Talk with Jason Andrew
By Thomas Micchelli
Hyperallergic, Feb 25, 2012
A week ago, on the night of Friday, February 17th, two incongruently mirrored exhibitions opened on either side of the East River: Charles Atlas’ The Illusion of Democracy at Luhring Augustine’s new Bushwick outpost; and What I Know, a large group show of Bushwick artists, curated by Jason Andrew, at the New York Center for Art & Media Studies (NYCAMS) in Chelsea.
The exchange between these two events, which witnessed scores of Bushwick denizens heading to Manhattan for What I Know and then back again to attend the red carpet Luhring Augustine affair (joining such bold-face names as Marina Abramović, Klaus Biesenbach, Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith), demonstrated the complexity of the Bushwick community’s ambitions, its heady possibilities and inevitable perils.
It used to be simple: an alternative art scene would spring up in a scruffy neighborhood, and — in a scenario replicating the domination of the Neanderthals by the Cro-Magnons — the laidback outsiders either interbred with or were vanquished by the more aggressive high-end gallery elite. In the case of Bushwick, the levers are in place, but the outcome is not so certain.
Jason Andrew has been a longtime activist in the Bushwick artists’ community, which burst into unanticipated coherence and visibility last April at the Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, with the three-evening run of In The Use of Others for the Change, produced by Andrew’s nonprofit organization, Norte Maar. A ballet in three movements, In the Use of Others wedded the choreography of Julia K. Gleich and her troupe of dancers with the talents of artists Audra Wolowiec, Austin Thomas, Kevin Regan, Andrew Hurst, Shona Masarin and Amery Kessler.
Writing in The New Criterion, James Panero had this to say about the production:
One thought was that I was seeing the reincarnation of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Maybe that idea won’t excite everyone as much as it excited me. For a while I have harbored a belief that the groves of Bushwick grow the same special fruit and enjoy the same artistic climate that gave rise to Montparnasse a century ago. The reappearance of the ballet troupe of the Parisian avant-garde would seem to support my theory.