Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chatting about Art Under the Bridge

Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen, The Experience of Green (detail). Courtesy of the artists.

The Art Under the Bridge Festival returns to DUMBO this weekend. We chat with Breda Kennedy, executive director of the DUMBO Arts Center, which produces the festival, about what to expect at this year's and what not to miss.

Thoughts on last year’s festival and how it went? Any moments that stand out to you?

The 12th D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival in 2008 was, like all previous festivals, "of the moment." The "moment" last year was pre-election and many projects had a political edge not to mention sponsorship by Al Gore's Current TV, which had a large presence, especially the enormous sculpture "Pachyderm," and an inteactive station at Galapagos all aimed at getting our young adult audience involved in the political process.

On the NY Water Taxi, Diana Arce, presented Politaoke and the opportunity for audiences to mimick their favorited political speeches and rhetoric.

Clouds and drizzle did however impact the visitor count, though my favorite project actually benefited. Reina Kubota's installation in the Tobacco Warehouse, "City of Light," recreated the island of Manhattan with used tin cans, glass, jars & plastic bottles. Filled with rain, the trash receptacles glistened even more.

Do you see a dominating theme, or themes, in the works for this year’s festival?

The immediacy of the event means many artists reflect on current issues: among others, the rise of technology, recession blues, homelessness and environmental concerns, for example:

River's Edge, is a street installation of oyster shells by John Monteith remembering the past use of the oyster as an industrial material while celebrating its recent use as an environmental tool.

Welcome to NYC; Boomtown 2006 by Artcodex creates a commentary about the failing boom markets of art and real estate by recreating New York as a post goldrush town. (Performance times: Sat. 12-2 p.m.; Sun. 2-4 p.m.)

Ballooning Awareness is an interactive roaming performance by John Bonafede that prompts youngsters to answer the question: "What is climate change and what should we do about it?" (Performance times: Sat. and Sun., noon)

The Tree of Life: Reina Kubota’s plastic bag installation blooms under the night sky.Stir Crazy: Come see Ryan Roth, forced by these economic times into the endangered, caged and untamed, business werewolf. (Performance times: Fri. 8-9 p.m.; Sat. 12-9 p.m.; Sun. 12-9 p.m.)

Each festival seems to have a not-to-be-missed moment or unpredictability, such as Dondi, the painting elephant. Do you see anything like that in this year’s works?

The show at DAC gallery, The Experience of Green, by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen (pictured above), opens the Festival on Sept. 25 and will be an extraordinary total immersion experience for visitors - the work is the outcome of six months intense labor and vast amounts of red Kraft paper and virtuos handling of a humble material.

Also, the prospect of an entire street block carpeted with oyster shells by John Monteith (Plymouth between Washington and Adams) will no doubt intrigue viewers).

Yes, unpredictability is the magic of Art Under the Bridge! There will be so many surprises for the organizers too!

Are you utilizing spaces you haven’t before in the past in DUMBO? If yes, in what ways?

We've got the Tobacco Warehouse back since last year and video_dumbo will invade 81 Front.

We are overjoyed about access to the Archway space under the Manhattan Bridge, where artist, Sean Capone's Camera Rosetum, will use video projection and computer animation to create a dynamic, baroque architectural environment.

Are there any local, Brooklyn-based artists you’re excited to have involved this year?

The artists are predominantly Brooklyn-based, not because it's a Brooklyn festival, but because most of NYC's artists now live and work in Brooklyn!


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