Alan Ruiz “Container and Contained”

The Kitchen

poster for Alan Ruiz “Container and Contained”
[Image: Alan Ruiz "WS-C-62A; WS-C-62B" (2021) Installation view at The Kitchen. Photo by Phoebe d'Huerle.]

This event has ended.

The Kitchen presents Container and Contained, the first institutional exhibition in New York City by artist Alan Ruiz. Ruiz’s practice considers the way the built environment engenders social hierarchies through an array of media, standards, and techniques. The exhibition includes three works that explore the redistribution of value and authority through multiple systems.

With the exhibition’s central work—Transfer II (WS-B690-L40) (2021)—Ruiz has leased 300 square feet of The Kitchen’s air rights (all that remains in the organization’s possession) for the duration of one year and at the cost of $1/month, radically below their market value. Air rights are tradable assets, commodities exchanged among Real Estate developers that endow certain properties with the right to develop vertically beyond the city’s zoning laws. These resulting “supertall” structures have redefined the shape and outline of the city and, more often, cast it in shadow.

Transfer II (WS-B690-L40) legally redistributes The Kitchen’s remaining tradable cubic volume of air over 512 West 19th Street to the artist, thus placing a temporary hold on the immaterial asset from entering into other forms of exchange. The work remains within this container so long as the lease is in effect. Yet because of the nature of the lease, which establishes an ongoing relationship between parties, this work suggests a dynamic interdependence between the artist and institution, who both serve to contain one another.

On The Kitchen’s ground floor—in a space typically used as a theater—WS-C-62A; WS-C-62B (2021) partitions the space through a series of thresholds and apertures. The form of these units, and the standardized armatures that contain them, echo surrounding luxury development. Windows exist at the boundary between interior and exterior and often index a border between private and public, accumulation and dispossession. As media that has historically served as a covert index of class position, the potential occlusion of windows in the city’s endless expansion skyward further suggests that these thresholds and boundaries exist not only at the limits of containment but as parts of a system that spectacularizes access to light and air. As forms common to the envelope of a building, such apertures also enframe the fantasy of an organization’s capacity for transparency, giving rise to speculation on what exists inside.

The tension between what an institution holds, both in its history and futurity, is further signaled in VIII (2021), a score-based work that indexes various registers of time in The Kitchen’s day-to-day operations, from the banality of its eight-hour workday to its fifty-year institutional legacy of artistic experimentation.



from June 17, 2021 to July 24, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-06-19 from 15:00 to 18:00


Alan Ruiz

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