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The Problem with Triple Candie

Triple Candie
500 West 148th Street, just west of Amsterdam Avenue, 212-368-3333
September 17 - November 5, 2006
Reception: Sunday, September 17, 4 - 6 PM
Web Site

The Problem with Triple Candie, is an installation-conceived of and created by Triple Candie-that uses the language of sculpture and the posturing of art manifestos to address Triple Candie’s greatest weaknesses. By candidly pointing out our problems to the public, it is our hope that Triple Candie’s headspace will be clarified. This is not meant to be a therapeutic or a pathetic gesture: we truly believe that in order to understand oneself one must look deep inside. So here, without apology, is our own form of institutional self-critique. For you historians out there, we think it might be the first of its kind.

A warning: The exhibition includes no actual artwork. (Triple Candie’s co-directors do not consider themselves artists.)

The dominant feature of the installation is a large, cream-colored, mountain-made entirely from large sheets of canvas sewn and pinned together and painted the color of the gallery floor. The intent is to have this mass look as though it were buckling up under the foundation. The “mountain” gradually rises, over ridges and crevasses, to a height of twelve feet. At its base, it is approximately 50 long and 36 feet wide.

At the foot of the mountain is a sign with two trail-like arrows, pointing in opposite directions, both painted with the words “The Problem”. And built into the mountain’s backside, not visible from the entrance of the gallery, is a wooden church façade with a temple top. The façade is loosely based on early Italian Renaissance designs. To the left of the door are painted the words “Open: Thursday-Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.” and to the right “Free. All Welcome.” The wording mimics that on Triple Candie’s 126th Street entrance, and underscores our public persona as a democratically spirited organization.

Ducking through the wide but low opening, one enters a ten-foot deep, cave-like bunker-lit only by a single camping light. The back wall is made from stacked Budweiser beer cases, with the brand name painted out. The sidewalls are made from blue sheets of foam insulation, with spray foam filling the creases in the walls and ceiling and dripping down like stalactites. This interior space contains a small table and chair, a military-surplus metal cabinet with two ceramic teacups on top, an old red cooler, cans of food, and a plastic jug of water. Leaning against the wall are two framed color photocopies that jointly document a David Hammons’ artwork: How Ya Like Me Now (an image of Jesse Jackson as a white man). Propped up on the desk is a framed photograph of Triple Candie volunteers stacking Budweiser beer cans in an effort to recreate a sculpture by Cady Noland.

But the most important object in the bunker is a handwritten text that lies on the desk. This anti-manifesto outlines “the problems,” written in an elliptical narrative that alternates between the first, second, and third person. Some of the problems concern our facility (e.g. “the floor is way uneven”); some are derived from critiques we’ve heard from others (e.g. “they have never formed a relationship with the Studio Museum”); still others are our own projections of issues people might have with Triple Candie’s programming (e.g. “they don’t seem to like artists very much”). The document is also sprinkled with a series of unpopular positions Triple Candie holds vis-à-vis artists, independent curators, and nonprofit alternative spaces.

In specific terms, the exhibition takes an oblique look at a variety of issues that concern nonprofit alternative spaces on a daily basis: issues of community, accessibility, artist-support, and economic sustainability. But it also addresses issues particular to Triple Candie, notably those of race and public accountability.

Let us know if we are wrong.
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