Duke Riley and White Box present a daring new multi-media installation maximizing the archeological qualities of White Box’s exhibition space by transforming it into an upscale fashion flagship store featuring clothes designed by the fictitious fashion mogul Paul Piers. Piers is on the forefront of high-end super boutiques threatening to overtake prime Chelsea art spaces. The impact of this ultimately pushes galleries and non-profits, such as White Box, out of the real estate market forcing them to, once again, seek out new, underexploited Manhattan neighborhoods. In less than a decade the current transition follows a trajectory that took over 30 years of organic demographic change to displace primal art neighborhoods (SoHo) and convert them into inner city shopping malls.
The Paul Piers Collection was born from piles of clothing left behind in a warehouse terminal market abandoned in the mid 1980s. In 1999, a squatter named RA discovered the endless piles of clothing and began refurbishing and selling wholesale to vintage clothing stores around Williamsburg and the East Village under the auspices of Paul Pierce Vintage. It is this reality that Riley spins into a poignant and humorous multi-layered commentary on the art and fashion worlds, gentrification and the changing topography of New York City. Inspired by the true story of RA’s entrepreneurial efforts, the installation becomes an embellished realization of unwrought potential. By 2004 Paul Pierce had grown into an operation that employed and housed 16 other non-domicile people. They eventually occupied a retail store in Williamsburg and began expanding and merchandizing their inventory.
The warehouse (located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn) was recently destroyed by massive fires of undetermined causes, displacing a group of squatters that occupied the space. Playing on the questionable investigation into the fires, absurdity of motives such as designer Paul Piers intentionally setting fire to clothes to launch a new, trendy burnt look abound. This burnt look will be modeled at WHITE BOX during the opening reception.
a division of WHITE BOX, will include a mock video mimicking the style of celebrity newsreels. All of the actors are former squatters from the warehouse building that burnt down.
Duke Riley presents Paul Piers for Chanel, curated by Juan Puntes and Judith Souriau, is the last and final chapter ending a six-year long WHITE BOX Summer Series under the umbrella title Six Feet Under.
Amidst a season with The Devil Wears Prada quickly becoming a cult movie and tailored contemporary art shows happening all over town, thirty-nine curators (the majority young and emerging) have offered the natives, those passing-by, and visitors an array of engaging, impenetrable, humorous, and, at times, political one man shows during the much dreaded and torrid New York Summer.
Duke Riley was born in Boston, Massachusetts and received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design 1995 and an MFA from Pratt Institute in 2006. His first solo show, The Bright Passage, in March 2006, at Magnan Projects was a great success. He was awarded the “Impulse Prize” as best artist in the Pulse art fair which exhibited a scaled-down version of the show. Additional exhibitions include a solo show of drawings and sculptures at Sarah Lawrence College, two group shows at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: Book and A Knock at the Door. The artist has had numerous performance and site-specific events including Dead Horse Inn which was featured in The New York Times (June 2006), Circumnavigate, in which he circumnavigated the island of Manhattan in a handmade boat, Building, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the artist recreated blackouts in Ireland during the 1980’s and Nautical Waste, an annual celebration of his newly created holiday. Duke Riley is represented by Magnan Projects in Chelsea. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he owns and operates Cherry Bomb Tattoo.