When, What, Where is 16Beaver (R. G. + H.G.)
When is 16Beaver?
Central to how 16Beaver functions for me is a certain relation
to time. A relation that is based on sustenance, sustainability,
regularity, continuity, persistence. Not of the the ìforeverî
kind, forever remembered in time immemorial, immortal time, 16Beaver
forever etc., etc. Not even really of the (not for profit) corporation
kind of time, outliving its ìfoundersî, its initial
members, serving the community with a clearly formulated mission
forever and ever, etc., etc..
But of a time that is tied to now and how (how will we be understood,
how will we understand each other, how will we get there, how
will we formulate or contest prospective destinations). The question
of now is in a sense about accountability. How can one be accountable
to the present, to the everyday, in our relations to one another,
our community, our public? The question of how is in a sense
about a utopia, something that might be imagined, might never
come to be, something that encourages thinking about that tomorrow,
the roads and structures that still remain unbuilt, unexcavated.
This question of "now" may be more easy to grasp, because
it is about immediacy, urgency. It relates to issues that arise
from engagement with contemporary socio-political-cultural issues,
subjects which interest participants, subjects we are interested
in within the context of our work or thinking or everyday being
as socially engaged individuals (e.g., Haider and the ìFreedomî
party elected in Austria, Sanctions or War against Iraq, Turkeyís
continued denial of the Armenian Genocide, Occupation of Palestine,
ìHomeland Securityî, "War on Terror",
United We Stand, etc. etc., Ö).
The question of "how" is more difficult. It requires
time, analysis, interrogation, contestation, debate, etc, etc.,
Ö . How does one create and maintain community, what would
a democracy or a community underway look like? How could one
create and inform and encourage a public, a new public, a new
relation to a public for oneís own cultural and political
practice? How can one realize, or embody the political or cultural
practice one is interested in developing?
In relation to both questions of how and now, or to the question
of ìWhen is 16Beaverî, our working response, one
which has been formulated largely out of action, has been ìeverydayî.
It is continuous, regular, a part of oneís everyday, a
time which takes place in-between the privacy of oneís
thoughts and interests and the publicity of manifesting those
thoughts into activities, readings, questions, discussions for
a larger group. A time that is allotted to one another, with
a certain commitment and a belief that out of that time, that
given time, that time spent together, some thing or time or idea(s)
may emerge, hows may emerge, hows related to nows.
16Beaver happens together, now, always with the possibility of
and a relation to tomorrow, without any promises of permanence.
What is 16Beaver?
In essence, an informal collective of artists, writers, and curators,
based in New York, utilizing an open and participatory structure,
with no official membership or hierarchy. Key activities are
based around regular weekly meetings: reading together, presenting
work, organizing panel discussions and screenings. The collective
is somewhat unconventional in that although it sometimes germinates
collaborations through facilitating conversations between artists,
and many of those involved with the group are interested in the
potential of collaboration as an alternative practice, it does
not exist to produce art. Instead, what 16Beaver produces is
a space; a platform to think and to talk; a refuge from day jobs,
from the commercial gallery scene; an "optimistic community"
to support and produce art, with links to other communities of
artists and activists; an alternative version of a New York artworld,
determined by artists, curators, thinkers, not economics.
Where is 16Beaver?
16 Beaver Street is the address of a small office building in
Lower Manhattan, where since 1999 the group has occupied the
5th floor with half a dozen studios and a communal space for
meetings and exhibitions. Set up and run by artists to be financially
self-supporting, the studio rents cover the shared space without
the need for outside grants. The site was chosen as a deliberate
point of insertion into non-art world circuits, with the surrounding
neighbourhood focused on finance and tourism, housing the New
York Stock Exchange, Battery Park, and the World Trade Center
site. In many ways, Lower Manhattan marks the historical core
of the city, and offers rich economic and cultural exchanges
usually inaccessible to alternative art spaces. Finally, beyond
this immediate neighbourhood, 16Beaver email lists function as
an extended platform for ideas and for posting information, articles,
and open calls. In effect, 16Beaver Group operates as a number
of overlapping communities, of studio tenants, meeting participants,
and online networks.
16 Beaver Street, 5th fl.
New York, NY 10004