Monday, December 7, 2009

Obstacles Show

Was mentioned in the Spec today, after having a drawing in Postcrypt's Obstacles show. Not quite my 15 minutes of fame, but I'll make do. The drawing was really last Spring's Figure Drawing final project, but they don't need to know that. It's flattering to be the only artist mentioned directly in the article, but did they really have to make me sound pretentious? The writer's tone is almost mocking. Also a little embarrassed by the advertisement for my Tuesday comic, but... alas.

Also, kind of weird to be referred to by my last name. Especially since so few people are able to pronounce or even spell it. That said, the Postcrypt show this weekend was interesting. Frankly I love Potluck far more than St. Paul's Cathedral, and I hate gallery settings anyway. The purple string obstacles were the best part: interactive art! That said, most of the art, including (probably, maybe, most likely) my own, was largely disappointing (i.e. sucked).

Postcrypt overcomes housing ‘Obstacles’

Despite their displacement, Postcrypt Art Gallery has collaborated with Potluck House to curate their last show "Obstacles."


For the first time in almost 20 years, the Postcrypt Art Gallery is homeless after being kicked out of the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel.

The reason behind the eviction was simple, even silly: Hammer-happy members had put too many holes in the walls while hanging up their artwork. Earlier this year, the University Chaplain confronted Postcrypt about the damages, resulting in a compromise in which Postcrypt paid for part of the cost of repainting the basement’s walls. After the discovery of more holes, however, Postcrypt was sent looking for alternative spaces to host events, at least until next semester, when it will be reinstated in its old home.

Although this led to the cancellation of one show and the postponement of another, Postcrypt managed to organize one last event in collaboration with Potluck House and the Columbia University Undergraduate Film Festival this semester. The title of the show, “Obstacles,” seems to be a snarky reference to the obstacles they had to overcome in light of their experience with St. Paul’s. But the president of Postcrypt, Ian Kwok, CC ’11, said, “We had conceptualized the show before the incident.” Kwok also said, “It was really nice to see how many groups reached out to us” during Postcrypt’s hunt for an exhibition space, and that Potluck House was eventually chosen because of its “different vibe.”

While the description of the event on Facebook was somewhat lofty (“Life is full of barriers. … Sometimes these obstacles can be physically circumvented and other times they exist on a more intangible level”), entrance to the first room immediately revealed that the night would be anything but pretentious. A thick cobweb of purple yarn intersected the room at bizarre angles, forcing visitors to crawl through awkwardly to reach a spread of food prepared by Potluck House residents.

Once through, comfortable couches were arranged at ideal angles for watching the strange—and usually hilarious—contortions of others. This room also featured a large-scale drawing by Julia Alekseyeva, CC ’10 (who also draws a comic for Spectator) which depicts nude models, obscure quotes, and emblazoned in the middle, the line “I can’t do this on my own.” Alekseyeva said she had meant to make the work “slightly disconcerting” in order to reflect the “anxieties and obstacles” attached to modern life.

This same shade of gloominess ran through the other artwork featured on the walls of all three floors of Potluck House. It extended to the films screened by the Undergraduate Film Festival, which were shown on the second floor. Co-president Vicky Du, CC ’11, explained that the films had been carefully selected to complement the art exhibition, resulting in a series of very short, silent films with sharp aesthetics.

On the top floor, Feel Good Inc. served Brie and apple grilled cheese sandwiches. Those weary from the three-story climb were treated to delicious food with a humanitarian aim—raising money and awareness for the Hunger Project.

Postcrypt Art Gallery’s exile led to a fortuitous collaboration with other student groups, resulting in a dynamic and multifaceted exhibition. Potluck House’s communal spirit does add a new spin. Its friendly, relaxed space helped to achieve Kwok’s goal of reorganizing Postcrypt into a “more dynamic, active place of convergence.”

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