The Clocktower Gallery left its Lower Manhattan base in December 2013 after hosting 40 years’ worth of legendary artists and their groundbreaking exhibitions, installations, and performances. Since the departure, the non-profit art body has developed and embraced a nomadic model, organizing varied events in art and music across three boroughs of New York City. For the 2nd summer in a row, Clocktower has partnered with Knockdown Center in Queens, a megalithic restored factory warehouse that sprawls over a gated three acre lot. The abundance of space has allowed Clocktower to host a group exhibition that is itself larger than life.
Anxious Spaces: Installation as Catalyst, on view at Knockdown for the month of July, features a gathering of artists whose works push either spatial, media, or theatrical boundaries. Many of the artists also play with and incorporate aural elements, coincidentally paying homage to Clocktower’s sister project, Clocktower Radio. One of the debut online museum broadcasting stations, Clocktower Radio has further pushed the parent institution’s mission of innovation across all creative genres.
It is thus fitting that the first work one encounters at Anxious Spaces is the dual sound and sculptural installation by Sydney based artist Tim Bruniges. Titled Normalize (the pull of the earth), the work engages its surrounding environment through acoustic interplay with Knockdown’s lofty architecture.
Audra Wolowiec spearheads more auditory exploration with her installation Concrete Sound, a linked series of concrete landscapes that model the sound foam used in recording studios. The inflexible material employed however presents an unnerving paradox to the object’s original functionality.
Molly Lowe presents her sound and video work Growth in a constructed garden environment that lures the viewer out of the exterior light and into a separate dark and enigmatic room to watch the literal growth of different plant life.
Will Ryman’s true-to-size sculpture Cadillac is a model of a 1958 Eldorado Biarritz fully fabricated out of resin and Bounty paper towels. One can only wonder how many rolls were used to create this hybrid symbol of both a luxury good and throwaway commodity.
Ben Mortimer’s wall-like structure One and the Other fills the rest of the indoor space. The work cuts down from the ceiling, refracting light through its partition of shattered glass.
Brooklyn band Prince Rama, comprised of sister duo Taraka and Nimai Larson, present a site-specific outdoor installation Fountain of Youth 11:11. As the name suggests, the work is an imaginative and somewhat kitschy ode to the mythological spring, complete with two Venus de Milo sculptures that enclose the spilling water. Scattered empty cans of Monster Energy provide a contemporary pun on the meaning of the “water of life”.
Straight through the passageway created by Prince Rama’s Venuses is Aurora Halal’s underground annex, which features a video projection that pierces through the room’s darkness. Upon closer inspection, the projection proves to be a study of human motion and form. On opening night, Miss Halal herself appeared to DJ a special set above her installation, the exterior space of which is playfully dubbed “The Ruin”.
Lucas Abela performed as well at Sunday’s opening reception, playing a triangular sheet of glass with his mouth. His piece redefined the art of “glassblowing”, as he produced a cacophonous stream of sound that was amplified through Knockdown’s space. The act abruptly culminated with Abela smashing the glass pane against his head, scattering shards underneath him and ripping a fresh stream of blood from his face. It was a jarring ending to say the least, especially as I witnessed Clocktower staff members quickly rush to Abela’s side to provide medical assistance. No one remained too stunned however, as we all came to learn that this was indeed just part of the show.
Abela’s installation is also on view in a separate room and proved an appropriate follow up to his performance. The work IV:BPM is a labyrinth of free standing organic-analogue drum apparatuses made from medical intravenous drip machines. The public is encouraged to engage with the work by playing with the IV taps to adjust the BPM and even moving around the stands themselves to change the spatial and auditory orientation of the installation.
Clocktower’s Anxious Spaces: Installation as Catalyst II is on view at Knockdown Center, 52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378, till July 26, Saturdays and Sundays, from 2 to 6pm. The exhibition will finish with a closing celebration on the evening of July 26, from 5 to 10pm.