How to make a site-specific socially-engaged participatory artwork in 5 steps

Performance and Installation at Heliopolis, Greenpoint 

Brooklyn, NY April 2014

In April 2014, I was invited to participate in a month-long residency at Heliopolis, Greenpoint that ended with a group exhibition of performances. During my residency I researched the history of Greenpoint and developed my own group of abstract symbols to represent the various inhabitants from the time of the Lenape to the more recent Polish and Puerto Rican populations. Incorporating the Polish tradition of the Wycinanki paper cutting, I cut these symbols into analog color photography filters (objects that I found at work, which were to be discarded). I installed these cut filters in the window at Heliopolis throughout the month and invited local residents to also hang these filters in their windows.

For the performance I gave a pseudo-crafting workshop with the title: 

How to make a site-specific socially-engaged participatory artwork in 5 steps

  • site specificity: choose location - greenpoint

  • observation: choose an issue - gentrification

  • history: do research - sociologist book and craigslist ads

  • choose visual representation: images from google research - patterns, abstraction

  • add some theory, or literature

During the performance I gradually took down the installation, while inviting viewers to read pieces of research I had found on the history of Greenpoint and its current gentrification. I then invited everyone present to participate by cutting out phrases from this research and combining the text with pieces of the installation. We then laminated our pieces, resulting in 8.5x11 inch place mats. During this crafting process we discussed the current gentrification of Greenpoint and the various groups involved in shaping its future.  


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