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alina & jeff bliumis: CULTURAL TIPS takeaway

toomer labzda
100a Forsyth Street, 917 488 3388
East Village / Lower East Side
November 4 - December 16, 2012
Reception: Sunday, November 11, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site


CULTURAL TIPS takeaway is a continuation of the CULTURAL TIPS FOR NEW AMERICANS project, started in 2009 by alina and jeff bliumis. part of which took place on may 7, 2011, a few blocks from where toomer labzda is now located, during The Festival of Ideas for the New City, organized by the New Museum. in conjunction with NoLongerEmpty, alina and jeff engaged with the lower east side community and gathered one hundred and four new ‘cultural tips’ from visitors, in exchange for their booklet, titled as the aforementioned project. during the festival alina and jeff also installed illustrated CULTURAL TIPS posters onto phone kiosks and placed stickers in various places locally as a point of reference and dialogue for visitors.

inhabiting the gallery as a procession of objects, a gift shop of sorts; each tip claims an international souvenir stripped of color and ethnic identity, such as:

“American action movies are multi-billion dollar export industry, but don’t reflect real life. Americans only occasionally drive over 100 mph, shoot each other and blow things up.”

“Speak loudly and chant U-S-A, U-S-A wherever feeling uber patriotic.” D.H.

there will be one hundred and four objects, for one hundred and four tips, for one hundred and four dollars each – with the aim that each tip is acquired and taken from the gallery before the exhibition closes. thus bringing the project full circle and presenting the cultural tips back to the local lower east side community from which they derived.

background: CULTURAL TIPS FOR NEW AMERICANS

to be a foreigner – one who is defined as “not from here” – often means unknowingly breaking rigid social and cultural rules. definitions of these social and cultural standards often say a lot about the “native” society. outlining national identities has proven to be a subject of global political interest – the French government has put up a website forum advising what it means to be French; the Russian government has recently focused on defining “Russian Identity”; and here in the United States “what it means to be an American” is loudly and frequently discussed on national television. as the proverbial “Land of Opportunity,” the United States has always had a steady stream of new Americans and alina and jeff bliumis have made it part of their ongoing practice to help recent arrivals assimilate and understand their new home. the project has been made possible by the Franklin Furnace Fund, Blue Print Fellowship, NoLongerEmpty and The Festival of Ideas for the New City, organized by the New Museum.

alina and jeff bliumis have been collaborating since 2000. born abroad: jeff in Kishinev, Moldova and alina in Minsk, Belarus and have lived in the United States for over twenty years. they have exhibited internationally, including the first, second and third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), Busan Biennale 2006 (Busan, South Korea), Assab One (Milan, Italy), Andrea Meislin Gallery (NY, USA), Stanislas Bourgain Gallery (Paris, France), Centre d’art Contemporain (Meymac, France), Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland (Cleveland, USA), Bat-Yam Museum (Bat-Yam, Israel), the Jewish Museum (NY, USA), the Bronx Museum (NY, USA) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK). they also have been awarded a number of grants, fellowships and residencies, including Franklin Furnace Fund, NY (2010-2011), Art in Public Spaces Grant, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NY (2008), Strategic Opportunity Stipend, NYFA, NY (2008) and the Six Points Fellowship, NY (2007 – 2009). their work resides in various private and public collections, including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Russia), Bat-Yam Museum (Israel), the Saatchi Collection (UK), Harvard Business School (USA) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK).

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