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March 18, 2010
Esopus Space, the New York exhibition and performance venue operated by the same nonprofit foundation that publishes Esopus magazine, recently hosted a new art show-cum-workshop brainstormed by artists Robin Cameron and Jason Polan that yielded a limited-edition art book.

I recently wrote about the exhibition and project, called The Assembled Picture Library of New York City, for The Awl, and was intrigued by the way the "collaborative exhibition and workspace environment" replaced the stale show-and-tell of gallery shows with the sleeves-up working vibe of an art studio and the interactive sociability of a craft circle. The two artists--Polan an illustrator of benign-looking animals and interactive artist fond of limited-edition, public-collaboration pieces; Cameron an art director and writer--hung out in the city's art scene and noticed some distinct overlaps in their style and attitude of work. "Robin had the general idea written in her notebook before she and I had met in person," Polan told me of the project's origins.

"Amalia Risolo in Florence" and "Lady's Arm-California," two pieces of source material.


What they came up with was a design to "create a collaborative and creative relationship with the general public, and also to enable a sense of community around artists' processes." What they implemented was a community cut-and-paste activity that comments on conceptual art without being a completely cerebral endeavor. For Cameron and Polan the hive mind of the collaborating public is pontification on art in the age of social networking. Starting from an archive of some 1000 images Cameron and Polan provided as source material but encouraged to bring their own scraps of the human experience, visitors create collages of expression from shards of random material.

Esopus being a New York institution and both Polan and Cameron working in the city, the Big Apple plays a distinct role in the concept and the execution. The name of the Assembled Picture Library of New York City itself takes significance beyond a titular description. Since visitors to the project were, like the artists, either from the city itself or under its immediate impression, everything would be of or informed by New York. "We wanted the name to be literal and official," Polan said as the event got underway last month. "We are both big fans of the picture collection at the library on 40th Street and 5th Avenue. This project is related to that space and we thought the title could reflect that."

"Brooklyn Bridge," a piece of source material.


What visitors came up with from the piles of miscellania--magazine advertisements, packaging, black and white photos of historical landmarks, instruction manuals, foreign currency, "unorganized manuscripts, vintage advertisements of strange products, rare prints, modest drawings and more"--was reproduced, using a copy machine in the gallery space, "to make new artwork from the available materials."

Work underway at the Esopus Space.


One of Cameron's collages from the project.


The exhibition ran from February 16th until today, and both raw materials and finished art was posted throughout the exhibition at the event's Tumblr page. At tonight's end of exhibition festivities, from 6-8pm in the gallery, visitors will be able to purchase a volume of unique Library Books of bound pages the curators assembled from the exhibition. The books are a limited edition available only in conjunction with the Esopus Space exhibition closing tonight.

SEE ALSO: aplny.tumblr.com
SEE ALSO: www.rocamm.com
SEE ALSO: www.jasonpolan.com
SEE ALSO: www.esopusmag.com

--
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other articles by Eric J Herboth.

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