The lecture last week at Exit Art was very interesting. The exhibition, Alternative Histories, is an exhaustive study of spaces and projects in NYC over the last 30-40 years. The main space is occupied by a long table set up like a research library with boxes for documents and gloves laid out to inspect each item. Hats off to the curators and organizers of the show, it is quite an undertaking to put so many things together for one show. The walls of the space are lined with posters, pamphlets, and manifesto/statements from a long line of recognizable and obscure art spaces and groupings.
The lecture was moderated by Robert Storr and dealt with the questions of "What is Alternative, Alternative to What?". The panel was made of Papo Colo, co-founder of Exit Art; Martha Wilson, founder, Franklin Furnace; Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, former directors of ABC No Rio, and Bridget Finn, Cleopatra's.
It was a lively talk, with Colo jumping in with his usual vigor and revolutionary zeal with some great one liners. A lot of talk was given to where the lines between the old generation versus the new generation and their relation to politics. The clear consensus was that the old models and modes of political struggle were long gone and the present generation of spaces and projects were dealing with a completely different kind of politics.
An insightful moment was when Colo talked about the obsessive nature of creating sustained cultural spaces. Places that are inspirational, confrontational, and cultural destinations for inquisitive minds. He called it an "obsession" to stay focused, relevant, and exciting in order to engage with culture in a relevant and meaningful way. This is a very strong statement that is relevant to all creative people.
The exhibition runs through November 24th.