The consistently innovative Open Source Gallery (306 17th Street at 6th Avenue) has launched their first exhibit for the year. “Throughout 2016, we will be exclusively exhibiting art collectives and artist-run organizations from around the world,” says Development Director Shauna Sorensen.
And the relationship between artistic work and the community is a particular priority. Sorensen explains that “by exhibiting art collectives and artist-run organizations, we aim to further our mission by engaging the neighborhood in discussions about collaboration and social issues.”
The collective’s name comes from the French word dérive, which loosely translates to “drift” in English. In this case, the drift refers to the travels or journey through an urban landscape. Smith and Souzis explain that the term was coined by and comes from The Situationists — a collective of avant-garde arts/political theorists which formed in the 1950s.
Smith is both a documentary media practitioner and educator. Souzis is a writer as well an interdisciplinary artist. As collaborators in /rive, their intersections are public space, site-specific projects, and mobile media — all serving as a means to explore community.
“A lot of our work integrates media. It’s a means to create a socially engaged experience,” says Smith.
And specifically, the community that surrounds the gallery.
The exhibit Anamorphosis is broken down into two separate creations: Horizon Lines (Smith and Souzis) and Convergence Lines (Smith and Berman).
The sections of the exhibit very much complement each other. Horizon Lines is described as “uncover[ing] the edges that mark the neighborhood’s undefined and immutable borders.”
While the piece is strikingly visual, the usage of urban sounds plays a pivotal role, as they surround the viewer in the space. “Shadows of the audience also become part of the exhibit,” says Smith.
Convergence Lines is described as “outlin[ing] the area’s social connections by mapping photographs sourced from the neighborhood’s residents.”
The experience for this installation begins with a text message to activate your involvement in the exhibit (the information to do so is listed above). “There’s a tension between our phones and the environment,” explains Souzis. “We’re hardwired to look at screens. People engage with their phones.”
Selected photos by the community will be used in the exhibit as Smith and Souzis. The text message to a participant explains that the “goal is to collectively explore what makes or defines a neighborhood by asking the people who know it best: its residents and those who spend time there.”
Smith, Souzis, and Berman have created an intriguing opportunity for neighbors and participants to engage in shared and public spaces, and the collaborative creation of the installation.
The artists define the collaboration surrounding the project in ways less evident to the viewer. Souzis explains that they went to Greschlers Hardware (660 5th Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets) to have some cutting done into some of the materials. “The hardware store is also part of the process,” she says.”They told told us that working on the cutting was ‘fun for us, it gave us a new skill.'”
The exhibit seamlessly connects with Open Source’s vision for 2016. “We realize that art is not only important within communities, but that community is also critical to art making,” says Sorensen, “and we want to explore how art can not only generate communities, but how it can also be a catalyst for social and political change.”
The Exhibition Rundown: Anamorphosis by /rive
Where: Open Source Gallery, (306 17th Street at 6th Avenue)
When: Through Saturday, January 30
Hours: Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:00pm-6:00pm
Kid-Friendly: The exhibition is something that kids may enjoy. Smith and Souzis told us about a 10-year-old boy and his grandmother who came during opening weekend and were intrigued by the experience.