“Base 12: Don’t Call It a Comeback” Exhibition

Ki Smith Gallery

poster for “Base 12: Don’t Call It a Comeback” Exhibition
[Image: Base 12 artists pose outside of the Whitney after receiving lifetime bans, 2016. Photo by Sean Flanagan.]

This event has ended.

Ki Smith Gallery presents Base 12: Don’t Call It a Comeback, an exhibition of works by the artists of Apostrophe NYC’s Base 12 project: Caslon Bevington, Ryan Bock, Morell Cutler, Jay “The Love Child” Gittens, Alana Dee Haynes, Kolter “Senor Melon” Hodgson, Charlie Hudson, Julia Powers, James Reyes, James Rubio, Bruno Smith, and Sei Smith.

Though often mischaracterized as a collective, Base 12 began as a curatorial experiment fixated upon the shifting reception of art exhibited in nontraditional settings or through unorthodox means. How do you engage with a painting hung on the wall of a subway station? What happens when an exhibition is staged at one of the most celebrated museums in New York City without the museum’s consent?

Brothers Ki and Sei Smith founded Apostrophe NYC in 2012. It was an experimental art gallery by day and an underground nightclub from dusk ‘til dawn. Upon the closure of their Brooklyn brick-and-mortar, the Smiths began a series of pop-up exhibitions in unconventional locations around the City, leading to the creation of Base 12 in 2015.

The following spring, the twelve artists staged their inaugural group show as a guerrilla pop-up at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Despite carefully sidestepping vandalism laws by using a suction cup hanging system, the exhibition hung for forty minutes before museum security confiscated the works and asked the group to leave. Upon departure, they accepted a lifetime ban from the institution in exchange for the return of the seized paintings. This guerrilla exhibition, and those that followed at MoMA PS1 and the Met Breuer, was indicative of Base 12’s larger project: to express reverence for the art world while cleverly underscoring the absurdity of its tradition and structure.

So what is Base 12? Nobody can really say, but it evolved into a vibrant community that celebrated creative expression and critical thought, centered around close proximity and hyperproductivity. Although their respective mediums, values, and approaches were as varied as can be, the restrictions posed by each exhibition challenged the artists to adapt their practices to, for example, a two-by-three-inch painting to be viewed through binoculars.

Now, five years after its conception, the artists of Base 12 have come together once more for their first exhibition in three years. Though their studios no longer share walls, they continue to collaborate and support one another both professionally and otherwise. Along with the twelve original works from the Whitney pop-up, this exhibition will include a selection of new pieces from each of the artists’ studios.



from March 03, 2020 to April 03, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-03-14 from 18:00 to 22:00

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