Sleeper: The Bronx Blue Bedroom

A monthly art installation in a Bronx apartment celebrates its one-year anniversary.

poster for Damali Abrams

Damali Abrams "Self-Help TV Goes to the Bronx"

at Bronx Blue Bedroom Project
in the Harlem, Bronx area
This event has ended - (2009-03-07 - 2009-03-28)

In Features Reviews by Sarah Rapp 2009-03-03 print

Art is rarely this intimate. The beginning of this month marks the one-year anniversary of Blanka Amezkua’s ambitious Bronx Blue Bedroom Project. Each month she invites a mixed media artist to display work in the most personal of settings – her own bedroom. The project, conceptualized to give contemporary artists a radically different venue for showing their art and to avoid the bureaucracy and tedium of applications for residencies and shows, has come quite a long way since last March. Amezkua, a Mexican-born artist specializing in embroidery, was so hard pressed to find applicants for the premiere exhibit that she ended up showing her own work. Twelve months later, she has artists lined up through the end of the year, a grant from the Bronx Council On The Arts, and has earned a stop on the Bronx Culture Trolley.

The BBBP experience is more corporeal than visual. Visitors will find themselves engaging with the exhibit, the apartment, and their host, Amezkua, in a way that goes far beyond the looking that museumgoers are so programmed to perform. Here, the slated artwork is only the beginning; with each door opened, the visitor is thrust into a new aesthetic atmosphere: from the gritty Bronx sidewalk into Amezkua’s apartment building, the white apartment door into her colorfully cluttered, incense-filled interior, and the infamous blue bedroom, where the changing monthly exhibits are displayed.

Fanny Allié, ''The Flight''

Despite the dollhouse-like size of the bedroom, the exhibition space exerts a strong influence on the art itself. Perhaps because there is so little of it at BBBP, space is conceptualized carefully. A precious commodity, it is clear how thoughtfully the artists consider how to fill it. As opposed to setting preexisting art loose in the wide rooms and white walls of museums and galleries for curators to round up and arrange, art at BBBP is sometimes created specifically for this space.

French-born artist Fanny Allié, whose video installation “The Flight” ran through the end of February, explains her process. She first visited the blue bedroom with only loose ideas on what form her video installation would take. Gestating ideas of escape, balance between reality and dreams, and the disappearance of identity, Allié developed her idea after absorbing the atmosphere of the bedroom and doing research on dreams and, of course, the color blue. What emerged in the room is a window. In the poignant scene she has created, Allié projects a window, fashioned from celluloid and light, onto one of the walls. In a four-minute loop, we see a man stand before the window, and, in slow, cautious movements, open it and jump out. As the top of his head disappears from the frame, the window fades away and the shot turns into blue, cloudy skies. The work is mixed media, and there is a bed (not Blanka’s, which is absent from her room during the showings) with a lumpy figure apparent under the blanket. Most viewers interpret the window scene as a projection of the figure’s dreams, but others accept it as a more literal piece of the architecture of the room. Allié has noticed that viewers are often more interested in the bed, and is pleased with the synthesis of the two forms. She says, “A different narrative is created with the bed. It allows the viewer to create larger narratives of the piece.”

damali abrams, ''Self-Help TV''

Starting March 7, 2009, the bedroom will be filled with another video installation, damali abrams’s “Self-Help TV Goes to the Bronx.” abrams, who often probes issues related to pop culture in her work, takes a topic she grew up subscribing to, self-help books and television, as the inspiration for her project. Aiming to synthesize a healing space, she has created “Self-Help TV,” a fictional television network. A collage of comedy, drama, reality, and performance, the viewing experience of “Self-Help TV” aims to please – the blue bedroom will be filled with comfy chairs to simulate a true “living room TV watching experience.” She explains, “There is usually a one-size-fits-all prescription that greatly oversimplifies solutions. In my work I try to find subtle ways to write myself and people I know into self-help.” Although she’s been developing this concept since graduate school, abrams is particularly excited about the intimate setting of BBBP. “Bronx Blue Bedroom Project is the ideal setting because it is actually someone’s home. I think that this will be the strongest iteration of the project to date.”

Due to its unique circumstances, the BBBP is open Thursday-Friday from 12-5 pm, and on weekends by appointment. The opening reception for damali abrams’s “Self-Help TV Goes to the Bronx” will take place Saturday, March 7, 2009 from 2-5 pm. Located in Mott Haven, Bronx, the BBBP experience is certainly worth the $2 subway cost.

MORE INFO
Bronx Blue Bedroom Project

Sarah Rapp

Sarah Rapp. Sarah Rapp is a film student and soon to be graduate of Barnard College. Her main interests include reading, writing, and watching, and then writing for arts and pop culture publications about what she reads and watches. She has yet to venture away from the tri-state area for longer than a few months, and has no problem with this. An aspiring filmmaker, her subject matter ranges from a history of Capital Punishment in the U.S. to an expose on bathrooms. » See other writings

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