Fashion. Prototype. Pose. Imitate. Plan. System. These definitive words come together to create AiOP 2012: MODEL, a festival of transformative ideas, wearable visions of positive change, and walking theories that expand preconceived notions of public space and art. From October 5 -15, national and international artist-citizens will take over 14th Street through poetry, performance, site-specific installations, videos, painting, sculpture, drawing, illustration, street art, mobile studios, design, music, as well as innovative trans-disciplinary work. Sashay, swagger, roll, prance, play, aspire, duck walk, run, jump, drop, tap, crawl, and strut along with over 100 artist-citizens as they are celebrated, presented, demonstrated, and paraded on 14th Street. Their work will occur all along this unrestricted corridor: in plain view, exposed, transparent, accessible, interactive, tangible, engaged, audible, robust, and colorful. Stop, watch, listen, and interact in fun, insightful, and unexpected ways.
Fashion: The global fashion world creates garments that adorn and protect our bodies while simultaneously gleaning from, and pushing forward, culture. Woven within this system is the ideological “fabric” from which we fashion ourselves as individuals and communities. The artist-citizens in AiOP 2012 MODEL present couture that mirrors the shared desire to define ourselves through a particular style, social norm, brand or uniform. Their projects also work to the contrary, reflecting our struggle for personal expression, individuality as well as our resistance to stereotypes, racial profiling and prejudice. They explore work that challenges often-unattainable perfection or unrealistic ideals, express behind the scenes viewpoints, and reverse the roles between fashion model and consumer. Take part in the transformation of subways, parks, buses and sidewalks into interactive runways complete with paparazzi, catwalks and, at times, a walking hotdog.
Prototype: History shows that before any creation becomes a fixture of society, there is first a creator of the exemplar, the ideal construct from which all others are modeled. This year’s festival literally reinvents the wheel including helmets that communicate without technology and permit us to hear with our bones, apparatuses that allow us to effortlessly carry the world on our shoulders, air made solid, illuminated blood, boxes made from cooked sugar, magnetic dreams, wearable furniture and bodega bag wisdom. Not limited only to objects, prototypes also define ideal citizens, those who, in our estimation, resist the status quo and seek to improve the world around us. For these artist-citizen role models, 14th Street becomes a platform for social change with visionary propositions that examine issues around politics, racism, ecology, economics, and health care.
Pose: Whether striking a pose or posing a question, this aspect of model embraces contrast: passive and assertive, subject and object, leader and follower. AiOP artist-citizens redefine these dichotomies, inverting the relationship between model-creator, digital-analog, celebrity-anonymity, and the personal-political. Questioning notions of race, beauty, gender, age and sexuality, their work asks us to reexamine the everyday tools and parameters we use to position ourselves with within society, as well as delve into the ways in which we document, arrange and prioritize our on- and off-line social profiles. “Like,” “friend,” or “poke” other participants through the vernacular of social media, as well as aspects of hyper-identity and virtual reality. Activate your own contributions to mobile photo studios, instant makeovers, portrait painting, games of the flesh and fetishes of the mind.
Imitate: Throughout our lives, we are presented with models of behavior, belief and social interaction that become the foundation for own aspirations, tastes, and relationship to the world around us. Be prepared to be entranced by the siren’s song and call-and-response of popular culture with marching choirs, gospel voices, spontaneous sing-a-longs, eclectic ensembles, lip-synchs, DJ and VJ performances. Stand witness to manifestations of deities, spiritual apparitions and incarnations of our darker sides. Sidewalks are converted into sociological experiments with artist-citizens analyzing social class, culture, religion, law, and deviance. Corners, curbs and cellar doors offer self-help and psychological evaluations including poetic probes into our collective state of mind.
Plan. Come partake in redefining our landscape. The schematics of 14th Street will be continually reinterpreted, rebranded and rearranged with projects that seek to draw out its present and potential urban structures, and remap its entire length delineated by our individual preferences rather than historical landmarks. Hidden infrastructures will fill in the outlines of its avenues through mystical labyrinths, poetry driven geographical charts, geocached communications and unraveling knit-guided walks. Bold, wheat pasted statements of solidarity and projected remixes of culture combine to inform a revised topographical social matrix that echoes through the corridors of 14th Street.
System. Amongst all of these conflicting, chaotic and collaborating definitions there is always order to be found. There are the systems that keep our world running, stumbling, prancing and plodding along through models of communication, business, finance, and economy. Investigate the procedures and methods by which we analyze and substantiate society, be challenged to scrutinize class divide, economic collapse, and recession politics. Artist-citizens reorder our current systems of capitalism, consumerism and commerce, reinventing new methods and industry, as well as reach back into the wisdom of indigenous customs.
We are all citizens of the MODEL runway. Throughout the festival, we invite you to join us in putting our best foot forward as we proclaim 14th Street as the largest and longest promenade in the world. We declare it our interactive public showroom, free laboratory, open vitrine, inclusive procession, movement mall, evolving plaza and liberated space. No door will separate us. MODEL!
Art in Odd Places (AiOP) presents visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces. AiOP also produces an annual festival along 14th Street in Manhattan, NYC from Avenue C to the Hudson River each October.
Art in Odd Places aims to stretch the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks in all disciplines outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas. Website: www.artinoddplaces.org
Art in Odd Places (AiOP) began as an action by a group of artists led by Ed Woodham to encourage local participation in the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, after moving back to New York City, he re imagined it as a response to the dwindling of public space and personal civil liberties – first in the Lower East Side and East Village, and since 2008, on 14th Street in Manhattan. AiOP has always been a grassroots project fueled by the goodwill and inventiveness of its participants.
Art in Odd Places is a project of GOH Productions.
Bonnie Stein, Executive Director.