XYZ: NYC 10 DowningDecember 7, 2011 - January 5, 2012
XYZ:NYC 10 Downing – an exhibition by Australian artists Leslie Eastman and Natasha Johns-Messenger.
A collaborative team since 2004, their work has historically focused on exploring real and perceived space through interventions in interior architecture. For XYZ:NYC 10 Downing, the pair sought to challenge the perception of visitors through a three-part series of optical site installations designed to force visitors to experience and interpret alternate points of view.
The first work in the exhibition, Pointform, channeled viewers through a planned tour of the space, their journey enhanced by a series of fabricated walls that terminated in various mirror systems that reflected off one another. These constructions revealed new interpretations of the space, as well as an unusual presentation of a journey as the mirrors previewed the visitors’ eventual destination. As they passed through the series of hallways, they arrived at the second phase of the exhibition, a large camera obscura device.
Installed to present a view of the busy stretch of Sixth Avenue outside 10 Downing Street—including a view of the noted restaurant Da Silvano, passing yellow-cabs, and an artist intervention. The third, Synoptic 3, was an interactive installation in which pairs of viewers, at appointed times, were invited to don video headsets created to display the point of view of the viewer’s partner and vice-versa. Participants cooperated in entirely new ways to make their way through an unfamiliar setting and reality, literally forcing one to take on another’s point of view to navigate the world around them.
Held at 10 Downing Street in the heart of New York’s West Village neighborhood—a historic home of bohemian culture and the gay rights movement, the exhibition also aimed to celebrate the area’s storied history while engaging the site-specificity that is essential to the artists’ practices. XYZ:NYC 10 Downing examined the status of the West Village as a neighborhood in a state of flux; literally, rather than figuratively. Inside the “act of viewing” each other through the artworks, the participants experienced an inter-play, which broke down social space. New residents, drawn to its stories and the architecture of a bygone era, students from developing nearby universities, and a new generation of families with young children having settled amidst an increasingly displaced elder class all interacted within the exhibition. These disparate groups were afforded a neutral space in which they could experience one another through physical encounters.
Exhibition runs Dec 7 to Dec 23, 2011. Open on Tues- Sun 1pm to 8pm.
Special hours on Dec 27 to 30, 2011. Open 1pm to 5pm
Synoptic 3 by appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The course of the exhibition featured a series of staged “performances” in which participant viewers engaged in the video headset installation, Synoptic 3. The piece was viewed daily or by appointment. There was also a panel discussion, “In the Eye of the Beholder: Ethical Dimensions of Perception” held December 14. The panel discussed the work in relation to both the philosophical and psychological dimensions of perception in the context of the exhibition XYZ:NYC 10 Downing.
Several student groups were invited to tour the exhibition including a group from public school PS3, City As Alternative High School, LGBT student groups, as well as from the local private school Little Red Schoolhouse. A scavenger-hunt children’s workshop took place on December 10.
Natasha has worked with NLE before, presenting one of the most popular art pieces at NLE’s past exhibit The Sixth Sense, a mirrored installation that bisected the room and challenged the viewer’s conceptual vision.
This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, Monash University Australia, American Australian Association, and generously supported by Stonehenge Partners.