Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Packing up the BMW Guggenheim Lab

The BMW Guggenheim Lab wrapped up its 10-week East Village run on Sunday... and now, workers are taking down the structure for its next stop: Berlin, in the spring of 2012. (After that — Mumbai!)

Bobby Williams stopped by yesterday to monitor the deconstruction process...

We're very curious what kind of reception the Lab receives by "Confronting Comfort" in Berlin. (Paging people who can read German!)

I was never a fan of this whole endeavor. Regardless, I'm wondering how BMW/Guggenheim will measure the success of this first stop. I haven't talked with many people who really bought into what they were trying to do. Not that anyone actually understood what they were trying to do. Any thoughts about the Lab — pro or con?


Anonymous said...

I don't live in the area but I like to bring my son in to expose him to interesting/offbeat art. I was never once moved to bring him there and I kept a close eye on their agenda, I guess it was geared toward a different audience.

Anonymous said...

I live nearby. I had to pass by to get home many nights. Imagine white hosts in their twenties with lazy, nasally, monotone speaking voices peppering the word "urbanology" over loud speakers to a mostly fedora and calf-high black-boots-over-black-tights-wearing crowd.

I was hoping the videos they showed would be intriguing enough to enjoy for a long time since they displayed scenes of the old East Village but they were full of droll, narcissistic interviews.

Older Posts said...

I live nearby too. What does wearing a fedora or calf-high boots have to do with anything? Just comment about the art. The one thing I know is Reggie Watts performed there and he's pretty great--not droll or narcisstic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggie_Watts

Marty Wombacher said...

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Buh-bye.

Uncle Waltie said...

Below is my comment about the art:


bowery boy said...

I kept meaning to check out something there, but the topics never really intrigued me enough to get me there.

I would like to know if we now get our tree back that they cut down?

Do they replace anything they took out to build this, or are we supposed to be grateful for the slab of concrete that we all know is keep the rats away? not.

rob said...

The Guggenheim Lab asked me to create semi-weekly walking tours on their theme of "confronting comfort." It's a great theme: comfort, the middle-class's pre-eminent value, is typically bought at the expense of neighborhood character. Comfort in a neighborhood raises its real estate values, the middle class gradually displacing the pre-comfort demographic and its commerce.

But after an hour of discussion with them, I realized that they were more interested in a flashy product than in the content, so I declined. They called me back again, promising to let me do whatever I wanted, but in the second meeting they were still so completely fixed on flash rather than content, I declined yet again.

Also they mentioned that they expected their audience to be mostly tourists. They added that the museum itself caters to tourism (I guess that's why the Guggenheim doesn't have a free night). I find it disgusting. I believe major New York institutions should promote a New York for New York dwellers. Bringing tourists, if commercially necessary, should serve the purpose of improving what's offered to New Yorkers, not tourism for its own sake.

It's also telling that they heavily promoted yoga as an urban solution. The real urban problems are all socio-economic. Yoga is the ideal solution for stressed-out museum curators and their overworked go-fors. Yoga doesn't confront urban problems, it's an anodyne to avoid them. Yoga is giving up on the urban environment. It's solving yourself.

If you're looking for the significance of the Lab, it's this: the Guggenheim chose this neighborhood because it is upscale-hip and safe and comfortable for their audience, eager to be here and be seen. That's the LES today.

We've had a rash of "urban solutions" from the arts community, like the New Museum's Festival of Ideas. To the extent that gimmick solutions are 'improvements' to the streets raising real estate values, they will be not the solution but the problem itself.

glamma said...

f*ck this sh*t. what a massive insult to the real east village. all they were doing was trying to figure out how to get more permanent tourists to move here. don't come back! go cheapen some other city with your thinly veiled shill.

Lindsay said...

Oh thank goodness it's finally going!! Finally, some good news! What a joke that all was

Lux Living said...

And don't let the rats hit you on the way out! What's the EV coming to when corporations feel THEY need to bring culture to the neighborhood? They're the ones killing it.

Now if you'll excuse me... I have to pay a $5 fee for not using my bank's ATM before buying a $9 coffee from Starbucks.

Squat or Rot said...

Lab = awesome.

East village old school purists please open your minds. It's not Duane Reade so why not?

Anonymous said...

Im not sad to see it go, but it was nice having something interesting to look at instead of the junk yard that it once was. What is become of the space now?

Anonymous said...

The Lab made me pine for the rat infested abandoned lot of yesteryear.

I live next door to it & have had to listen to "urbanology workshops" not to mention live bands who might as well have been performing in my kitchen.

One evening I asked them to turn down the volume of the live band. They're playing about 3 feet away from people's windows, it's 10PM. "We've got a permit" & "have a nice night" was the response I got from the urbanologist with the badge. The irony of the situation did not seem to be apparent to her.

Good riddance. Oh & thanks for the critical insight into urban living. Wankers.

Anonymous said...

Why all the HATERS! I live in the neighborhood and have for 15 years. I enjoyed the space. Free movies? OUTDOOR movies?
Hell yes!!!
I saw Captured and another film that fetaured EV greats like John Lurie, Steve Bushemi, Nick Zedd and Jim Jarmusch. It was awesome to see how they lived, what they saw and photographed. I didn't live here then. I am glad I didn't. I would have been 13 years old.

Uncle Waltie said...

Thank you folks, I feel a little less alone this marginal Tuesday night. For a moment I was afraid that I was the only one who didn't get it. Yyayy...let's raise a cold one for us simpletons.

Greg said...

I think it's good that they cleaned that spot up and it will now become a park. it was a pile of rubble and garbage for 20 years and one of the main rat nests in the neighborhood. no one else was cleaning it up. and it did bring a lot of people in the neighborhood together who never would have met each other otherwise. just because it was all polished and pretty doesnt mean it was bad. you can be a hater but not participating in your neighborhood except to hate on a group that actually cleaned up and made the neighborhood better is pretty lame.

Anonymous said...

They cleaned up the park that was dilapidated for 20 years and a major rat nest and problem for the neighborhood. It was blocked off an unusable. they brought people in the neighborhood together to talk about issues and try and solve them and a lot of people had very good ideas that they are now trying to implement. You can hate on it all you want but it was a good thing for the neighborhood unlike your lame hater attitude. Just knock things down instead of actually doing any work to try and build something up. it's easier for you. go back to your horder apartment and keep eating and watching tv.

Lux Living said...

Says their intern....

Anonymous said...

The final month was nothing but private parties and BMW promotional events (with evening valet parking, no less!!!) and curators from Vancouver and Toronto (those NYC wannabee cities)- carefully chosen because they are journalists...the better to rewrite history with glowing reports about how relevant it all was!

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I appreciated the space. the world moves on, always has, and the punk scene from the 80s couldn't last forever -its better this, this marker of art and urban design in its current form, than a strip mall. I get very, very sick of this blog and what is functionally its anti diversity message. anyone who says that "group a belongs in my space and group z does not" qualifies to me as anti diversity, narrow minded and bound to be outlived. the worst part about it is that I agree with you! I agree that the aesthetics of modern developers are insufferable, that our city is not a strip mall and that everyone deserves a voice and a safe space to live. this arts space, however, was indubitably dreamed up by the modern version of the artist whose demise you so lament. reconstruct your energies into anti strip mall, pro diversity message and I'm with you. this weird anti intellectual strain, however, is freaking me out.

Anonymous said...

will you marry me?

Lux Living said...

How many of the Anon commenters are Greg? Can we start a pool?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 9PM:
This whole trope was nothing BUT a strip mall of old ideas. Art space? This art space was dreamed up by an army of PR men (and women) to help a wealthy museum and a luxury car company promote themselves. Where were the new ideas? Who was actually "rethinking the city" this year?...you don't need to look any farther than OWS.

Anonymous said...

9pm here, and no, not greg. "a strip mall of old ideas"?? Lovely poetry, consider writing a book, but what I'm hearing is a qualitative assessment of what was said, an anti-discussion argument. Which is fine. You don't have to agree with their interpretation of city life, but why hate on a space that was set up as a forum? You may argue that they didn't do enough to bring a mixed voice into the space, which may also be true- but it was also your prerogative, like the OWS protesters, to make your voice heard if you care, to make yourself and those you care about part of the conversation.

And yes, corporations did put up the money for it. (Though I doubt that this was really the brainchild of BMW. More likely Goog had more to do with the inception.) I'm going to put my vote in for corporate social responsibility and arts involvement over the alternative. They cleaned up the space, they aren't IHOP, they were doing something unique, discrete, and temporary. And, considering the state of your city (citibank? IHOP?) I personally think, given the thesis of this blog, that you should be thankful for their addition to the dynamic culture of our city.

bowery boy said...

They cut down trees for a concrete slab under a corporate logo - that's the problem.
They move on, and we have to live with it - that's the problem.
"it was geared toward a different audience" - that's the problem.
It now stands as a shrine, inviting in other corporate shills that we'll have to fight back next year and the next in other parts of the neighborhood - that's the problem.
"It was awesome to see how they lived" but we're not allowed to continue living that way which you so love - that's the problem.
"make yourself and those you care about part of the conversation" would only validate their invasion - that's the problem.
"and it did bring a lot of people in the neighborhood together who never would have" - that's the problem.

I'm hanging on to my apartment by a thread, and things like this only put $$$ signs in my landlord's eyes. Don't you see that "dilapidated" is one of the only tools we have to keep from being pushed out of the neighborhood where we made our lives.

I want our trees back!

Clayton Patterson said...

I hope that the Guggenheim Lab works out in Berlin. I was pleased with my participation at the Lab, for a couple of reasons.

One is that I have toured all over Germany and 3 of the big German employers one sees all over Germany is BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Siemens. I think that the German manufacturing model is something America should be looking at, and not the making all of American products in China - that is an important point.

Next they paid for artists to do their thing there. I have no idea why creative people in need of money would not use this opportunity to talk to the public and get paid!!! EVGrieve could have gone, there done a workshop on using the computer to inform the community. and gotten paid. What is wrong with that?

If others found the people speaking boring why didn't they liven it up and enlightened the world to who they are and what their art is?

And as far as what the people from the Guggenheim wanted - that was not my problem. It was what I wanted to do and, what I wanted to do was fine.

I got 5 sessions and for a couple of those sessions I got other people to come and talk, or show a DVD, and I was able to pay them. What the hell is wrong with that?

I thought of this as similar to the 1930's WPA. Even people from Occupy Wall Street came and spoke. Maybe they are boring as well - who knows what ones taste is?

And I thank Rob for being one of the people who told me about the Lab - as he will tell you- they were looking for people. I am happy they found me. And the others who got paid were happy as well. Besides, downtown is almost dead and this helped in terms of giving me at least one bright spot on the horizon.

thanks clayton patterson

Clayton Patterson said...

For all of those people so dissatisfied with what went on in the Lab, or even those who where happy with what went on, the First Street Green Space is looking for ideas about what to do with the space. It is all cleaned up. And it can become something like 6th street garden where people do performances - or cement chess tables like in TSP, and Washington Square Park - or whatever. It is better to do than just to complain.

clayton patterson

Goggla said...

Are we positive the space is going to be a public park? How about a community garden - a place to grow food. Maybe the Girls Club would be interested?

Meghan said...

I guess I was one of those tourists it was supposed to cater to.

I went there twice. First time, I sat in and listened to a random workshop, something about oyster beds. Boring.

Only reason I went back was to hear David Simon talk. Which remains one of my favourite memories from my time in NY.

I think I hit it lucky though.