MIXPLORATORIUM – installation lab is OPEN!



It’s really unsettling to write this while the International Day of Resistance is unfolding on Wall Street.

Three nights ago, some real-life evil stepfathers dismantled the public space of love and resistance that was Occupy Wall Street.  Within the same day, some real-life art faeries and I began an occupation of our own, at a gallery less than a mile north of Zuccotti Park.

I’m having a lot of conflicting thoughts about facilitating a gallery experience during this moment of urgent street action.  What’s more important – creating a small utopia, or fighting for better realness?  Are they actually interconnected versions of the same thing?

Sometimes, in a climate of scarcity and disillusion, the universe hands you an art gallery and asks you to fill it with magic.

I got the call two weeks ago from comrades at the MIX Experimental Queer Film Festival (which is running right now in all its spectacular glory and intergalactic pink and blackness — I highly recommend landing at a screening or two): the La Mama Galleria, a gorgeous space on E.1st off Bowery, had been donated to MIX for 3 weeks to do with as they wish, and maybe the Department of Transformation wanted to play?  We answered the call and decided to turn the gallery into a sanctuary for our community of queer artists.  This time around, I get to play the role of Curator and Installation Artist and Host.

My vision for curating the space was to invite some of my favorite artists – who also happen to be some of the most talented community-builders I know – to spend a week working together as an installation/idea lab, then open it up to performing artists as a low-key and friendly theater.  The folks responsible for creating Le Petit Versailles, Hey Queen!, Judy, Heels on Wheels, MIX, The Homewreckers, and the Department of Transformation, among others, would get to play along.

Our gallery has already begun its transformation into a warm and welcoming space for healing and connection, anger and enlightenment.  It’s rapidly becoming a cozy nest for making tiny treasures and grand installations, for reflection and storytelling and yes, sometimes we even dance there.  We also serve tea and cookies.  (I’m working on a recipe for apple cinnamon oatmeal cookies and you’re welcome to weigh in on the test batches.)  We may also start hosting queer caucus meetings for #OWS — stay tuned for more info on that.  And sometimes – like on this day of resistance – we may leave the bubble completely and lose our voices screaming about what’s happening in the imperfect world outside.

As we support each other in our artistic process, and stay connected to the world outside, we model a collective, anti-capitalist way of working.  One that is more emotional than intellectual, that values community building and using art to process the wounds of hard urban living — alienation, trauma, HIV, heartbreak — and transforms that pain into beauty and connection.

We open up our sanctuary to you, too.

Tuesday, 11/22. Opening from 6-8 pm. Storytelling event from 8-10.  La Mama Galleria, 6 E.1st St btwn Bowery/2nd Ave. F to 2nd Ave. More info below and on the DoT web site on programming.

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