International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP)

ISCP

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5 comments:

Laura Elkins said...

ISCP Removes and Discards Artist’s Work Without Her Permission

Sometime between Sunday, October 26 and Thursday, October 30, the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn removed and discarded part of the installation The Deposition by Laura Elkins. The work was in the exhibition Wrestling Angels at ISCP Gallery, which also included work by Bonnie Lucas and Carol Peligian. The show was curated by Marion Callis and ran from October 10 through November 1, 2008.

On Monday, October 27, an ISCP staff member called Ms Callis to report that a leak had developed in the ceiling of the hall over the stairwell where The Deposition was installed. Staff told Callis that a portion of the installation on the stairwell was affected and, with the artist’s permission, that part of the work could be moved to the side of the stairs to avoid damage. However, when Callis arrived at the gallery on Thursday, October 30, she found that the entire installation on the hall floor and stairwell had been removed, and subsequently learned that the work had also been discarded.

“The entire exhibition was fraught with irregularities by ISCP,” said Callis. “They reneged on all agreements, including publicizing the exhibition, despite having boasted of the best mailing list in the city and numerous assurances to me that it was being done. One thing they did do efficiently was discard Laura’s work. Perhaps the work was water damaged, but with the ‘evidence’ discarded, we’ll never really know what happened. The staff told me three versions of the story.”

The Deposition, which also included an audio component, was created specifically for the entrance hall of ISCP, and featured a painted sculpture of a massive “Inspector” figure, one of Ms Elkins’s icons of wanton power and bureaucratic dysfunction. Extending from the figure was a thirty-foot-long, snake-like penis that “spewed” shredded documents over the hall and down the stairwell. Every shred of the documents was removed and discarded.

Dennis Elliott, director of ISCP, claimed to know nothing of the whereabouts of the work, and informed Callis that he had not noticed that parts of the installation were missing, although he passes through the hall every day to access his office. Elliott has not acknowleged the destruction of the work or offered explanation, opting instead to direct inquiries to his staff.

“I have not had an experience like this since the 1990s when a gallery director in rural Louisiana hid one of my works in a closet because the lieutenant governor was coming for lunch and she was afraid the work was too risqué,” said Ms Elkins. “How is this behavior consonant with ISCP’s mission and supposed stature?”

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to respond to the previous post because I just showed my own work in the exact same location in the ISCP exhibition space and I got some of the story about the previously mentioned piece. Let me first say that I had a very pleasant experience working with everyone at the ISCP. Everyone there is a professional and they are good at what they do.

The space where my work and the previous work were installed is essentially the landing at the top of the entry stairwell. The exhibition space at the ISCP is rather oddly shaped so they have to make use of the available space in the entry there. I was working with the preparator and he mentioned that the hardest thing he ever installed in the space was a giant creature with a huge snake penis that spewed shredded documents all over the place. The reason I was told that the previous piece was a problem was not because of its 30 foot long penis but rather because there were shredded documents all over the floor and stairwell that came out of the piece. This created a safety hazard and people actually did slip and fall on the stairs because of it. This is the single entry and exit point for the ISCP. There are people walking up and down those stairs all day. If you read the last post careful it only states that “the entire installation on the hall floor and stairwell had been removed.” By “entire installation” the artist means specifically the “shredded paper.” The sculpture hanging from the ceiling was not removed, just the paper that was creating a hazard on the stairs. It is an exaggeration to site censorship issues (last paragraph above) in relationship to this work. I’m surprised they even allowed the paper to cover the stairs for as long as they did.

I hate to side with an institution over an individual but in this case where there is a red X for the ISCP on this site; I feel the need to defend the institution. I found the ISCP to be rather generous and quite on top of publicizing the show and the attendance at the opening was great despite the fact that the building is a bit far from the train. Given the rest of the galleries and people on this site that have an X, I really don't think the ISCP belongs in that category. One artist freaking out about having hazardously placed shredded paper thrown away (even if it was really special shredded paper) does not a red X make.

Marion Callis said...

I was the curator for the exhibition "Wrestling Angels" at iscp from October 10 - November 2008. First, I wish it known that I was unaware this report had been put on HMD, and I wish to clarify/correct several items.

- iscp did fail to publicize the show and accompanying events as promised. The problem appeared to stem from poor communications with the often-absent director. Staffers responded to my inquiries on the subject with increasing anguish as the opening date drew near, while e-blasts & etc languished, awaiting directorial approval. An e-blast was ultimately sent three hours before the show opened; coincidentally, the same interval was repeated for notice of the artists' talk, and for the closing party. Iscp's artist residents did not receive official notice of the show aside from an e-mailed memo from the director that there might be noise in the gallery area, so we invited them ourselves (many attended, and were quite supportive).

- Regarding leaks and water damage, I received a call from Kristine Seigel one rainy afternoon when the space was closed to the public, alerting me of a leak discovered over the stair landing, that put parts of Laura Elkins's installation at risk. Kristine's call was completely appropriate and much appreciated, and we discussed how best to protect Laura's installation. After several telephone conversations, it was clear that Kristine and I both preferred to act conservatively, and move only what was absolutely necessary. She assured me that I need not travel to the site; I felt assured that the staff on hand would act professionally. When I arrived the next day, I found all of the installation material on the floor had been removed; when I inquired, no one present could describe to me who did it, who ordered it, or why (NB. both Kristine and Daniel, the preparator, were away). I did not find the missing material onsite after a thorough search.

- I did find iscp's director evasive about this subject and others, when not altogether absent. He repeatedly directed my inquiries to his staff as the parties responsible for the decision and subsequent action.

- As regards safety issues, I manned the exhibition every day save one, and was in regular communication with residents and staff. There were no falls at any time during the installation, the run of the show, or while de-installing. As I entered the show each day, I checked in with the staff, and for potential safety issues. None were reported to me, and any potential problems I perceived, I remedied immediately, as the artists had entrusted me to do.

I am pleased to see that Anonymous had a pleasant experience showing work at iscp. We expected and were repeatedly assured of the same. I had worked with iscp's director for many years at the time I proposed "Wrestling Angels" to him, having exhibited a number of iscp's international artist residents' work in the academic setting I directed, with the strongest publicity and programming my institution could produce. The director thanked me repeatedly for my support of iscp's mission in a meaningful and professional way, which he said he was pleased to report to his board.

I proposed "Wrestling Angels" to iscp based on the strength of my years-long, positive professional relationship with iscp's director; following a history of my support for him, the director's repeated failures with "Wrestling Angels" were especially disappointing to me and to the artists who participated in it.

Marion Callis said...

I was the curator for the exhibition "Wrestling Angels" at iscp from October 10 - November 2008. First, I wish it known that I was unaware this report had been put on HMD, and I wish to clarify/correct several items.

- iscp did fail to publicize the show and accompanying events as promised. The problem appeared to stem from poor communications with the often-absent director. Staffers responded to my inquiries on the subject with increasing anguish as the opening date drew near, while e-blasts & etc languished, awaiting directorial approval. An e-blast was ultimately sent three hours before the show opened; coincidentally, the same interval was repeated for notice of the artists' talk, and for the closing party. Iscp's artist residents did not receive official notice of the show aside from an e-mailed memo from the director that there might be noise in the gallery area, so we invited them ourselves (many attended, and were quite supportive).

- Regarding leaks and water damage, I received a call from Kristine Seigel one rainy afternoon when the space was closed to the public, alerting me of a leak discovered over the stair landing, that put parts of Laura Elkins's installation at risk. Kristine's call was completely appropriate and much appreciated, and we discussed how best to protect Laura's installation. After several telephone conversations, it was clear that Kristine and I both preferred to act conservatively, and move only what was absolutely necessary. She assured me that I need not travel to the site; I felt assured that the staff on hand would act professionally. When I arrived the next day, I found all of the installation material on the floor had been removed; when I inquired, no one present could describe to me who did it, who ordered it, or why (NB. both Kristine and Daniel, the preparator, were away). I did not find the missing material onsite after a thorough search.

- I did find iscp's director evasive about this subject and others, when not altogether absent. He repeatedly directed my inquiries to his staff as the parties responsible for the decision and subsequent action.

- As regards safety issues, I manned the exhibition every day save one, and was in regular communication with residents and staff. There were no falls at any time during the installation, the run of the show, or while de-installing. As I entered the show each day, I checked in with the staff, and for potential safety issues. None were reported to me, and any potential problems I perceived, I remedied immediately, as the artists had entrusted me to do.

I am pleased to see that Anonymous had a pleasant experience showing work at iscp. We expected and were repeatedly assured of the same. I had worked with iscp's director for many years at the time I proposed "Wrestling Angels" to him, having exhibited a number of iscp's international artist residents' work in the academic setting I directed, with the strongest publicity and programming my institution could produce. The director thanked me repeatedly for my support of iscp's mission in a meaningful and professional way, which he said he was pleased to report to his board.

I proposed "Wrestling Angels" to iscp based on the strength of my years-long, positive professional relationship with iscp's director; following a history of my support for him, the director's repeated failures with "Wrestling Angels" were especially disappointing to me and to the artists who participated in it.

Anonymous said...

This site cracks me up. Writing from Europe, I was an artist in residence way back at ISCP when it was still downtown. Did you know it's founded on prostitution? Get cosy over drinks with founder Dennis who will boast how he used to be a downtown walker (we call it "gigolo" this side of the pond), how he donned a tux to escort old rich broads to galas and benefits and serviced them for "donations." He had started as a slum landlord who divided up loft spaces in Tribeca until he realized eurotrash artists like me came with gov funding to the big apple, so he made it legit and called it a program. No idea what he's like now, but back then he was interested in only two things: money and getting a leg over. BTW, he also ran all his other real estate ventures from ISCP, meaning the outrageous participation fees he charges cover his private business overhead quite nicely. I loved my time in NYC but reading this site confirms my worst suspicion: that the sleaziest low lives with no shame and no scruples are the winners.