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Urban Art Projects, a non profit whose headquarters is in Williamsburg Brooklyn and whose mission is to produce public art projects is pleased to announce the opening of the Williamsburg Waterfront Sculpture Exhibition May 8, on view until June 6 2010. Included in the exhibit is invited artist Swoon and 7 additional artist selected by a jury.

Urban Art Projects is thrilled to be working with Swoon whose domed sculpture will raise awareness for her building project in Haiti. The installation in East River State Park will enable the artist and her team to test the materials and building process before traveling to Haiti next month. Those who are not familiar with Swoon can find her work in urban spaces, but also on this month’s newsstands on the cover of ARTnews. Swoon, together with her partners at Konbit Houses Project, has been working on a development that will provide dwellings for inhabitants of disaster stricken areas like Haiti. The artwork proposed for the Williamsburg waterfront park employs the same super adobe building material to be used in Haiti, but the dome structure in Brooklyn will be an art installation to raise awareness, rather than a dwelling in its own right.

The jury for the remaining sculptors was comprised of  Brooklyn artists and writers: Phong Bui, artist and publisher of the Brooklyn Rail, Boaz Vaadia, internationally known sculptor, and Debora Gilbert, writer curator and artist. Urban Art Projects directors Kim Vaadia and Martha Henry said, “Although the jury could only pick 7 artists, we received a great number of promising proposals that we would like to consider for future projects.” This month will be very busy for the selected artists, namely Kathy Bruce, Ursula Clarke, Rob De Oude, Sarah Fonzi, Nathan Slate Joseph,Howard Kalish, and Scott Piscitelli ( aka Wu Ming and Littlefish Farms) who will produce a diverse group of sculpture that can be seen against the spectacular skyline of Manhattan visible in East River State Park.

Despite the durable and seemingly permanent materials used in the artwork to be seen in East River State Park, including cement, metal, and wood, these pieces are only temporary installations and will be removed in June 2010, leaving the park in its original state just in time for the free concerts in the summer. Keep your eyes open for more announcements concerning installation progress, unveiling, and other events at www.uaprojects.org in the coming weeks.

This project is sponsored by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and this event has also received funding from a New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation FY2008 Initiative Grant, and the Sponsoring Member of the local legislative initiative pursuant to which this Contract is funded is Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.

Formerly the site of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal where all rail cargo to Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island was uploaded off barge-ferried rail cars from New Jersey during the late 1800’s, railroad ties and tracks are still visible on the grounds, as well as concrete loading walls and ramps.  In addition to concrete slabs, the park has open flat grassy areas and a wild field meadow sloping down to the riverbank.  There are several gravel walkways leading from the street to the water’s edge. Tree plantings are minimal so the views are unobstructed.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

1-5 pm Live performances in East River State Park (at Kent Ave. and North 8th in Williamsburg)

6-9 pm Live performances and video program at Urban Art Projects (136 Wythe Ave. between North 8th & 9th in Williamsburg)

Curated by: Derick Cross, Kaia Hemmings, Matthew Teti, and Gillian S. Wilson

Images from PERFORM WILLIAMSBURG 09 coming soon

PERFORM WILLIAMSBURG is a multi-disciplinary festival celebrating alternative performing arts in New York. In advance of the 2009 performance art biennial, Performa, Williamsburg-based Urban Art Projects (UAP) hosted a day of performances by urban poets, emerging and established Brooklyn- and New York-based artists, and an outstanding roster of international artists. The first half of the program was set in the beautiful East River State Park, overlooking the East River, Manhattan, and the burgeoning Williamsburg waterfront skyline. The second half of the program, featuring additional performance and video art, took place in the nearby UAP gallery.

The PERFORM WILLIAMSBURG 09 program follows:

Live Performances in East River State Park, 1- 5 pm

1:00-2:00 pm Urban Voices United (Poetry by D-Cross, D. Black, Jamica, Nayrubi Selah)

These four spoken word artists, all from the New York metropolitan area, performed works exploring the themes of hope and identity from an urban perspective.

2:15-3:00 pm Marthe Ramm Fortun, Ghost Baby

Ghost Baby was conceived as a reference to the sardonic short stories of Thomas Mann, particularly Death in Venice. The performance consisted of a parade along the water with a group of 20 people gathering by the waterfront. The performers were instructed to bounce cheerfully down the street. They held mirrors and they were dressed in swimming suits, a reference to a scene from Visconti’s film adaptation of Death in Venice. The group processed into the park and through the audience, then formed a line by the waterfront. Within the audience, towards the grassy lawn, another group of people  emerged with banners — some with abstract images, others with text. The two groups of performers  approached each other forming an interface reflected on the mirrors: text, images, and the surroundings (river, architecture, audience). Thus, they formed a parallel with the river, almost like a frontier adapting to the steady flow of water.

3:00-5:00 pm (ongoing) Lydia Bell, Work for Pay

For Work for Pay, Lydia Bell collaborated with two underemployed dancer/choreographers and allowed them to demonstrate their marketable skills to audience members. According to Bell, the performance  cannot end until both of the artists have found suitable employment. Work for Pay is a critical project in the discussion of sustainable tactics in art. The piece aims to create a discreet economy in which artists are paid for creative research, and suggests a new model of connecting artists to resources by using the art itself as a mean of communication. In this roving installation, the performers improvised from dance scores to demonstrate their marketable skills and create fleeting or sustained social interactions with audience members and in so doing challenged the traditional notion of “work”.

3:30-4:00 pm Genevieve White, Adam and Eve

White is interested in the distance, separation, and reconciliation between human beings in relationships. With the Adam and Eve story in mind, she designed a form-fitting, yellow dress with forty hand-stitched pockets. For her piece, the artist invited one audience member at a time to take an apple from a bucket and write on it something that was stolen from him or her before passing it to the artist via a yellow fabric tube that briefly connected the artist’s arm with the arm of the participant. The artist then took one bite out of the apple and placed it in one pocket. At the end of the piece, all forty of the pockets in the artist’s skin-like costume contained an apple.

4:00-4:30 pm Jason Martin, Power Animal Challenge

Half human, half animal figures, clothed in brightly colored spandex faced off in wrestling matches — male against female — with sadomasochistic undertones. The piece unfolded as a hilarious and bizarre send-up of professional wrestling.

Live Performances and Video Performances at Urban Art Projects, 6 – 9 pm
136 Wythe Avenue (between North 8th & 9th)
6:00-6:30 pm Karen Azoulay, Earthly Strata, Studded with the Minerals of Time

For this piece, Azoulay turned a mixed media sculpture into a tableau vivant of “archeological discovery…an exploration of geological forms.” The artist and her assistant rested their adorned fingers  through small openings in the “Earthly totem.”  The artist writes, “It is unclear why these semi-precious treasures [adorning the performers’ fingers] have returned to the Earth from which they were once mined.”  Azoulay’s work explores concepts of the submerged body and the mythic and transformational qualities of the natural world.

6:45-7:15 pm Andras Böröcz, Bread Head Fables

The local Polish bread made in Williamsburg and Greenpoint is the subject and medium of Böröcz’s activity. Bread, one of the most basic foods, is also a multivalent symbol with private cultural, religious, political and historical meanings to the artist. The performance combined video projections and live performance. Three video channels were projected onto the gallery wall, two pre-recorded and one live, which showed in real-time the artist’s activities in the gallery setting. The artist’s prerecorded bread fantasies were contrasted with “real” documentations of bakeries and food shops. As part of the live action performance, the artist created and made use of bread costumes.

7:30-8:00 pm Damaris Drummond, 365 Faces; you want me, you got me, but you have to pay

Drummond’s piece grew out of an experience wherein she uploaded a video of herself to YouTube.com every day during 2008. The artist became intensely interested in the public’s interaction with her footage throughout the year. She observed that the “hits” each video received online established a sort of market value for her filmed expressions, and started to value certain expressions as more precious or interesting according to their popularity. Drummond was inspired to create 365 Faces; you want me, you got me, but you have to pay, a mock auction in which audience members were invited to bid on six choice expressions using high fives as a currency of affirmation.

8:00-9:00 pm Video Program:

Amelia Winger-Bearskin, ambienTTransformation, 2009, (Single channel video, sound recording, 9 minutes)

In reverse time the performer reverts through three stages: blackness, gold leafing the face, and coating the face in honey. Throughout the duration of the video, the performer is completely asleep. This video was recorded for Mac web cam under the influence of Ambien. The sound is taken from the monologue sleep babble that the performer spoke before the gilding of her face. Excerpted from the enclosed medication guide for AMBIEN CR (Zolpidem tartrate extended-release tablets): “What is the most important information I should know about AMBIEN CR? After taking AMBIEN CR, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night.”

Monika Weiss, Anamnesis (Swiatlo Dnia), 2006, (Single-channel video projection, sound composition, 15 minutes, Collection ASA Foundation, London)

Anamneis is a video and sound composition that resulted from a 7-day interactive installation and performance conducted in May 2006 at a 12th century Visigothic castle in Trancoso, Portugal. The piece was part of “Spirit of Discovery,” organized by the FACTO Foundation for Arts and Sciences and ASA, London, and curated by Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta. Anamnesis explores historical memory and its relationship to the imaging of ephemeral body. The video recorded and edited by the artist is a combination of two forms of narrative—the documentary retelling of the performative event, and the poetic-conceptual investigation of the themes suggested by the project. These two distinct narratives overlap and alternate, mirroring the open-ended, multi-layered expression of the installation and performance. The first sequence of the video shows local men cutting the grass that grows in the middle of the castle. The cut grass left on the ground creates soft bedding. Later in the video this area is covered with long sheets of white canvas that is being gradually sewn by a group of local women.  Both sequences are edited in slow motion and overlap gradually, with additional views of the canvas blowing in the wind and resembling waves of ocean. The video ends with the view of the artist lying down in the middle of the area and drawing around her body. The sound composition is based on the artist’s recording of local women farmers’ voices, and the sounds of the wind inside the 12th -century fortress. The artist asked the women to list activities related to farming, as well as to say words such as “landscape,” “the light of the day,” and “silence.” All voices are recorded in Portuguese and are meant to remain as abstract sounds re-contextualized for those listeners who don’t speak Portuguese. In Polish “Swiatlo Dnia” means “The Light of the Day”.

Jennie Hagevik Bringaker, Den Andre (The Other), 2009, (Single channel video, sound composition, 5 minutes)

In Den Andre the artist and her own subconscious meet within the context of a fairytale. In order to define your own individual self, you must depend on someone or something different from you, which represents the other, the not you. The modern world is built upon ideas of difference, such as this. The fact that these ideas of difference are inherent to our identity makes it hard to talk about a greater social unity. War is about domination and forcing one reality on top of others. Something in this otherness threatens the existence of the individual and the only option is violence. The idea of the exotic comes from the same place. The exotic is otherness that is alluring and attractive, but always with a sense of fear and distance. If the world is a stage and our dreams are our second life on earth, what we fear will always be something that is already inside ourselves. The trolls and witches from the fairytales are the monsters of your own mind and to keep sane, you have to fight them. It’s all about looking in the mirror and seeing the face of Bob.

Nadja Marcin, The Fall and Rise of a Fish, 2008 (Single channel video, 7 minutes)

In this video piece, Marcin, dressed completely in white, steps into a dark scene. Additional elements are hard to identify: a hand-sewn animal hangs over the central area in the middle of which is an inflatable pool for kids. In the pool is a fish, a small koi. After the performer asks the fish how it is, the threatening nature of the fish’s situation becomes clear: a barbeque grill is set up over the pool, and the fish is offered a fishhook. Then the water is drained from the pool. The fish wriggles in the shallow water in existential need. The interaction with the fish is disrupted by the performer’s live painting and spraying during which she philosophizes about how the word Machtübernahme (assumption of power) does not exist in English. She tells of her deceased grandfather who put fish in her parents’ pond. He was a philosopher: “Poor Mr. Philosopher!” are the words said to console the fish in its fight for survival. The fish survives.

Amber Hawk Swanson, To Have, To Hold, and To Violate: Amber and the Doll, Las Vegas Wedding, 2007 (Single channel digital video, 6:15 minutes)

This video documents the wedding nuptials between the artist and her life-like sex doll, a RealDoll, produced in her exact likeness and made of a posable PVC skeleton and silicone flesh. The artist’s doll, Amber Doll, began as a Styrofoam print-out of a digital scan of her head. Her face was then custom-sculpted and later combined with the doll manufacturer’s existing “Body #8″ female doll mold. After completing The Making-Of Amber Doll in San Marcos, California, Amber and Doll drove to Las Vegas to wed in the chapel of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino where the 2007 Miss America Contest was being held. Amber and Doll went on to disrupt wedding receptions, roller-skating rinks, football tailgating parties, theme parks, and adult industry conventions. In the resulting series, To Have, To Hold, and To Violate: Amber and Doll, ideas surrounding agency and objectification are questioned, as are ideas about the success or failure of negotiating power through one’s own participation in a cultural narrative that declares women as objects. Amber’s work with Amber Doll, herself a literal object, deals with such themes through an oftentimes complicated feminist lens.