“Alternative Histories” is a history of New York City alternative art spaces and projects since the 1960s. Through audio interviews with founders and key staff, a reading room of magazines and publications, documentation, ephemera and narrative descriptions, the exhibition will tell the story of pioneering spaces – like P.S.1, Artists Space, Fashion Moda, Taller Boricua, ABC No Rio, The Kitchen, Franklin Furnace, Exit Art, 112 Greene Street/White Columns, Creative Time, Electronic Arts Intermix, Anthology Film Archives, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Just Above Midtown, and many more – as well as document a new generation of alternative projects such as Live With Animals, Fake Estate, Apartment Show, Pocket Utopia, Cleopatra’s, English Kills Art Gallery, Triple Candie, Esopus, and others.
Over 130 spaces are represented in the show, which elaborates on the significant contributions these organizations made to the cultural fabric of New York City. They gave visibility and inclusion to otherwise excluded artists and ideas. The idealism of the founders, the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in sustaining these histories, against all odds, illustrates the dynamic purposes that propel the artistic scene in New York. “Imagination is an alternative to reality, creating options that never end,” says curator Papo Colo.
The exhibition incorporates a broad definition of the term “alternative space,” and includes significant publications and artist collectives to cover a broad arc of this history – bridging neighborhoods, decades and themes. In the development and organization of this exhibition, the curatorial team viewed dozens of archives and personal collections – selecting critical materials from the histories of the spaces and projects – and interviewed founders and early staff members, when possible, to construct a narrative about the alternative space movement in New York and its continuing impact on the city’s cultural and artistic landscape.
[Image: “Founders Papo Colo and Jeanette Ingberman at Exit Art, 578 Broadway, Manhattan,” (1986)]