The Work Office, a collaborative art project led by Katarina Jerinic and Naomi Miller, was soliciting work for a new iteration of their project. I applied and was accepted to participate in the group exhibition. Inspired by the Works Progress Administration, which employed artists in US during the Great Depression, the project offers Depression-era wages to artists to generate “idea-based assignments to explore, document, or improve daily life in New York.” Each artist has only 2 weeks to produce the work, and then it is presented in an exhibition. I chose to record a sound collage and build images and text to accompany the sounds.
Project Website: www.theworkoffice.com/
Format: audio, MP3
Running Time: 9 minutes
Summary: A sound collage comprised of found sounds and interviews collected on May 1, 2010 in the plaza in front of the Brooklyn Museum.
When & Where
Availability: Available online. See below, or visit the Work Office website.
• Exhibited at The Work Office’s temporary 156 William Street location, New York, NY, from May 7-20, 2010
Created by Alexis Clements for The Work Office, May 2010
I’ve lived two blocks away from the Brooklyn Museum for just over three years. Ever since moving here I’ve always found myself drawn to the fountain in front of the museum. On the over-sized staircase and the curving terrain of the plaza I’ve seen young couples taking prom pictures, children getting soaked by the fountain, sunbathers, step teams practicing for the ready audience, teenagers hanging out in the evenings doings tricks on their skateboards and bikes, homeless men and women rummaging in the garbage cans, families sharing meals.
Like the nearby Prospect Park, it’s a gathering space that brings together all manner of people from the neighborhood and beyond. What’s unique about this space, for me, is that people are actively encouraged loiter, to hang out without a specific aim.
I grew up primarily in the suburbs outside Washington, DC, in spaces and in a city where loitering was never encouraged, particularly not among groups of young men of color. It’s exciting and strange to me to have a space so close by where everyone is encouraged to gather, particularly given that it’s right at the entrance to one of the city’s best cultural institutions.
Despite a sign with a lengthy list of prohibitions, it would be a rare day that at least one of the rules of the plaza wasn’t being broken, if not many of them. But the community and those tasked with monitoring the area seem to employ a benevolent tolerance for a certain degree of rule-breaking.
The fountain and plaza are no utopia, not by any stretch, but they manage to bring together and create a community of people in a unique way that’s rare even for New York. Uncluttered, various, flexible and open, the plaza allows the community to make of it what they will.
Please enjoy these sounds and images collected from the fountain and plaza in front of the Brooklyn Museum on May 1, 2010.
Text of the Sign in the Plaza
Welcome to the Brooklyn Museum
Wed – Fri 10am – 5pm
Sat & Sun 11am – 6pm
On the first Saturday of each month the museum is open from 11am – 11pm with free admission beginning at 5pm.
The grounds are managed by the Museum and patrolled by our security force as well as the New York City Police Department.
You are welcome
To enjoy the plaza from 7am to 11pm
To walk your dog on a leash if you curb it and clean up after it
To take souvenir photos (commercial photography requires a permit)
To enjoy the water features without entering them
To deposit trash in containers
Museum rules prohibit
Skateboarding roller-blading and biking
Using illegal drugs or alcohol
Amplifying sound, except by permit
Feeding birds or squirrels
Panhandling or solicitation
Performing or rallying, except by permit
Engaging in commercial activity, except by permit
Rummaging through trash receptacles
The plaza closes at 11pm.
To report a problem or request information, please call the Brooklyn Museum at 718 638 5000.
Please also visit our web site at www.brooklynmuseum.org.
The plaza is a free wireless internet “hot spot.”