By Jacob Feige
A lack of fixed roles among artists, curators, and critics has prevailed in many art communities formed in the wake of the great recession. With little economic incentive to participate in the commercial gallery world, young artists in particular have taken on a wider range of roles: mounting exhibitions, collaborating, and publishing critical texts in tandem with—or even in lieu of—individual studio practices. These artists forge communities reflecting this paradigm of the artist-as-critic, curator, performer, butcher, baker, and/or anything else one might want to be.
Philadelphia will lose two fine project-oriented spaces borne of this spirit in May, when Extra Extra and Possible Projects end programming in their gallery spaces, both in Fishtown. Though soon-to-be gone from this city, their activities will continue in various capacities. With community defined less-and-less by a physical location, Extra Extra and Possible Projects (and its sister entity, Possible Press) will continue their work in a culturally nomadic fashion on the net, in print, and elsewhere.
Extra Extra has mounted over twenty projects since opening their space in 2009, many of them emphasizing the collective over the individual and the democratization of art through digital connectivity. In the final exhibition in the gallery space, tropico post – apocalyptic, works by six artists explore the territory in global culture between the vacation getaway and apocalypse. Erin M Riley’s hand woven tapestries could, at first glance, be something from a Tibet store in a hippy vacation town. But her dark subjects sit uneasily with her woolen crafty charm: tire tracks veering off the highway (History), and a cache of assault rifles (Loot). Just to the right of Riley’s History is Rachel de Joode’s I Am Very Small, a sagging, once-frozen Hawaiian pizza folded over a wooden plank. Such pizza, with its empty promise to marry the cuisines of Italian America and Hawaii, is cold, stark, and pitiful in the gallery space. Matthew Palladino’s enameled relief panels are as cheerful and fun as they are manufactured and distant. I’m reminded of how depressing, fun, and emotionally vacant a party supply store is. Gideon Chase’s illustrative gouaches bring a touch of humor to the show, his Dry Eye showing a pile of rocks that doubles as a pair of bloodshot eyes. In the rear of the gallery are an installation and a sculpture by Alex Lukas and Joe Lacina, respectively. Lacina’s textured riot armor is painted a nearly International Klein Blue, actually in reference to the color of the Windows operating system’s critical error screen. It seems to stand guard in front of Lukas’s coldly lit shelves of living plants and images of cities.
Co-curators Derek Frech, Joe Lacina, and Daniel Wallace will continue Extra Extra without a fixed location, with quarterly projects in various places and through their website, eexxttrraa.com. Derek Frech will focus on his own studio practice in Philadelphia for the time being. Joe Lacina will be in Iowa this summer to focus on the residency program he started on his family’s farm, Grin City Collective. Daniel Wallace will be co-proprietor of American Medium, a project space in New York.
Possible Projects began in Brooklyn as a project space in 2009. Directors Rachel and Trevor Reese moved the space to Philadelphia in 2010, the same year they began Possible Press, a broadsheet-format print edition of artist writings and images. In their original space in Brooklyn and the one now closing in Philadelphia, Possible Projects staged tightly curated solo and group exhibitions, with an emphasis on emerging and underrepresented artists. Their small gallery space often featured only a few, carefully related works in each exhibition. Last summer’s Portmanteau paired two eloquent, materially savvy sculptures: James Davis’s 101, a wall projection through transparent red dice, and Kate Owens’s Styles (pink & blue), an automatic tie-dye of sorts, made from the separation of dyes in a sugary purple drink. In their recent exhibition of video works by Nanna Debois Buhl, Anne Eastman, Oliver Laric, and Extra Extra co-curator Derek Frech, the gallery space itself was closed. Each artist’s video was visible through the gallery window for a week at a time each night after sunset. The final proper exhibition in the space, Eric Veit’s Ponytail, was a spare arrangement of collage and assemblage, with a newsprint edition that visitors could take, free of charge.
For the final project in the space, Becca Albee will perform on Saturday May 12 as part of her ongoing On a Person’s Person project. The artist will photograph the contents of visitors’ bags and pockets, adding to an existing collection of these documents of personal effects. After the close of Albee’s project, Rachel and Trevor Reese will continue Possible Projects and Possible Press, in an as-yet undefined form, in Atlanta, GA.
Jacob Feige is an artist and teacher. His work has recently been shown at Chambers FA, Beijing, Movement, UK, and Jolie Laide, Philadelphia.