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The Price of Nothing


EFA Project Space
323 West 39th Street, 2nd Floor, 212-563-5855
Hell's Kitchen
September 14 - October 27, 2007
Reception: Friday, September 14, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Curated by Jason Murison

Iris Bernblum Crash John Fekner Adam Putnam Michael Smith and Joshua White Rory Posin Jessica Rohrer Christy Rupp George Rush Roger White David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong Films by: Charlie Ahearn Anders Grafstrom Eric Mitchell James Nares and Amos Poe

EFA Gallery is delighted to announce their opening exhibition for the fall: The Price of Nothing: luxury after The Real Estate Show, curated by Jason Murison. Essay published in conjunction with Paper Monument.

The story of “The Real Estate Show” (1979/80) is told like this:

On New Year’s Eve 1979 an anonymous group artists organize a guerrilla-like protest exhibition entitled “The Real Estate Show” in an abandoned storeĀ¬front on the Lower East Side. The object of this exhibition is to call attention to the gentrification of downtown neighborhoods and the practices and politics surrounding the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The content of the show is less in the works displayed than in the venue: the particular storefront is one of many in the area held vacant by the city, which has kept silent about its intentions for the property. On the morning of the 2nd of January, after a well-attended opening, the NYPD padlocks the space, effectively incarcerating all the works of art within and locking the artists and spectators out.

In response to the closure of the exhibition, the newly formed group known as Collaborative Projects (Colab) succeeds in generating a publicly watched protest followed by a short standoff with city lawyers. As a way for the city to settle the debate, the city not only relents, relocating “The Real Estate Show” to a building down the street, but gifts a lease of another city-owned abandoned building (156 Rivington Street) to Colab. This space is later named ABC NO RIO.

Using the premise of “The Real Estate Show” as a springboard, The Price of Nothing: luxury after The Real Estate Show explores the rise of the luxury market in regards to both property and the art object since the late 70s. The exhibition plays the role of a time capsule pitting contemporary art works with works from the 80s and 90s that both reflect the life cycle of art and real estate. For example, George Rush’s painting Five Lamps (2007) centers the viewer within a contemporary luxury apartment where as Martin Wong’s painting Houston Street (1984) shuts the view out at street level along an abandoned lower east side. Rush’s painting’s contemporary location could very well be in the same exact spot as Wong’s. John Feckner’s graffiti-like stencil DECAY illuminates the urban blight of the South Bronx circa 1980 (famously and ironically used by the Regan Administration as a campaign stop) is politically and historically heightened when juxtaposed with Iris Bernblum’s photo-series Spokeswoman (2002) in which an aspiring spokeswoman in search of something to represent finds solace at the public spaces and fountains of midtown corporate office buildings.

The New York City of today and that of the 80s are seemingly two different cities. In today’s Greater New York, a gift of property to quell a protest (in the case of the “Real Estate Show”) seems a preposterous prospect. As luxury housing development steamrolls from the Lower East side throughout Brooklyn, local politics still flare – in the case of the battles over the Jets and the Nets stadium proposals – but politics from decades past (such as gentrification) have been conspicuously absent. Ultimately, The Price of Nothing asks, “Does the achievement of gentrification in a given area give rise to a luxury market? And as the city becomes more professional, how does artwork change?”

The Price of Nothing: luxury after The Real Estate Show will feature five “No Wave” super-8 films made between the years 1977 to 1981. Each film will be available for screening in its entirety by selecting the works by title from the front desk. Films will include: Amos Poe’s The Foreigner (1978), James Nares’ Rome ‘78 (1978), Eric Mitchell’s Kidnapped (1978), Charlie Ahearns’ The Deadly Art of Survival (1979), and Anders Grafstrom’s The Long Island Four (1980).

A special “No Wave” film screening will be held October 17, 2007 with films to be announced.

Jason Murison, is the Gallery Manager for Friedrich Petzel Gallery, a curator, adjunct professor at School of Visual Arts and New York University, and is the former director of PPOW. He has contributed pieces to Brooklyn Rail. In conjunction with this exhibition his latest article “The Price of Nothing, 3 Stories about Real Estate” will be published in Paper Monument’s premier journal this fall. Last year he curated “How I Finally Accepted Fate” at the EFA Gallery.
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