On Friday, November 4th we stepped outside of the traditional art realm into a more experiential and experimental art world. The day began with a workshop with Eco-artist, Linda Weintraub, and ended with the owner of Postmaster’s Gallery, Magdalena Sawon.
Linda Weintraub prefaced our entry into the “Fire and Ice” workshop she prepared for us with an open invitation to strip down as much as we were comfortable with. I have to admit that once she said that, I had no idea what to expect--I took off my shoes and sweatshirt. The space we walked into was very open, but on the floor laid various patches of unearthed moss and rock infused blocks of ice. We were handed a candle and were asked to sit among the moss and ice, feel it, and later discuss how society has pushed nature aside to make room for safety and sanitation. At this point, the article she asked us to read before coming into the city that day--the one describing ecological art--was starting to ground itself in my mind. Linda was fostering an environment for us to consider and reintroduce ourselves to nature. This felt so strange to me...but that was exactly the point; I was able to immediately realize how much distance I put between myself and the ecosystems I pass through and shield myself from daily.
As a group, we participated in various experiences that highlighted the unique relationship our bodies share with the environment around us. In this fast paced world, we seldom stop to even think about the energy from our body transferring a concentrated area of heat to an ice cube sitting in our hand. I know my first instinct is usually, “Ah that’s cold, get that off of me!” However, being urged to concentrate on that power, as if I was conversing with the ice cube (or matchstick), opened my eyes to begin to understand just why Linda was so passionate about this medium of art.
After experiencing first-hand, the deep relationship between humans and the natural world, we found ourselves in the company of the Queen of New Media herself, Magdalena Sawon of Postmasters Gallery. The greatest thing about this gallery is that they do not prefer any specific type of artwork, medium-wise or contentent-wise, they simply want to show new and exciting artists. This puts Postmasters in a very unique position in which art reigns supreme over commercial success; this results in a gallery that truly cares about delving into uncharted waters in pursuit of unearthing amazingly interesting art. With that said, the works being shown while we were there proved to be no exception to this. The first room we stepped into was filled with large photographs depicting urge to experience male bonding from the perspective of someone who was born in a female body and is transitioning. The second room showed a new media exhibition which included a musical video of a robotic/emotionless real-estate woman showcasing the perfect luxury apartment. Both shows were very interesting in their own right and to my knowledge were completely unique--solidifying in my mind that Postmasters strives for NEW art...not just what's popular in the market.
I signed up to ask Magdalena a few questions and I was very pleased with her responses. She took the time to thoroughly explain everything that was on her mind regarding the topic. I asked her what the most difficult thing was about dealing with new media pieces and she hit on the art market as well as the difficulties that arise while displaying the nontraditional works of art. It was great to hear the enthusiasm in her voice while speaking with us, It gave me hope in galleries where previously I considered them to be very snooty and not transparent. Postmasters is clearly a pioneer in the art world--in fact, when I asked her about the times she had moved and if other galleries follower, she affirmed that they were the first to move to Tribeca, and others followed in suit. I only wish I was able ask her a few more questions, but the sentiment of my classmates was a tad embarrassing. People began to show obvious signs of fatigue. They stopped paying attention, sat on the floor, and only focused on the dog. I just wanted to get out of there before it got worse and we risked seriously offending her.