Clocktower Productions is an art production institution working in the visual arts, performance, music, and radio. Founded in 1972 in Lower Manhattan by MoMA PS1 Founder Alanna Heiss, Clocktower is the oldest alternative art project in New York. For 40 years, the institution has produced seminal exhibitions and performances by some of the most important artists of our time. After leaving its historic Tribeca tower in December 2013, Clocktower immediately engaged in contracted program partnerships with six cultural institutions in three boroughs.
Clocktower produces multidisciplinary art projects all over the city through these creative collaborations with Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Knockdown Center in Queens, Playland Motel & Gallery in Far Rockaway, and Times Square Arts and Neuehouse in Manhattan. These spaces host Clocktower exhibitions, performances, residencies, radio, and administrative activities.
While Clocktower examines opportunities for a permanent long-term home, administrative offices are located in an office building on East 41st Street, with a satellite studio for full-time radio production and broadcast at Pioneer Works, in Red Hook.
In the 1970s, Alanna Heiss emerged as a prominent figure of the alternative spaces movement. In 1971, she founded The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which organized exhibitions in otherwise unused or overlooked spaces in New York. The Institute's first pioneering show, Under the Brooklyn Bridge, was organized by Heiss and Gordon Matta-Clark, and featured such artists as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Dennis Oppenheim. In 1972 Heiss created the Clocktower Gallery, located on the top floor of a 19th Century McKim, Mead & White building in Lower Manhattan. Opening with inaugural solo shows with Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle, and James Bishop, the Clocktower quickly became a legendary space for exhibitions, installations, and performance art. The Clocktower mounted groundbreaking solo exhibitions by artists including Gordon Matta-Clark, Lynda Benglis, Max Neuhaus, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Artschwager, Pat Steir, Vito Acconci, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Charlotte Moorman, Laurie Anderson, and Marina Abramović, among numerous others.
In 1976, Heiss founded P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens, and the Clocktower became an auxiliary space for artist residencies and group shows of emerging artists.
In 2004, the space became the headquarters of P.S.1’s Art Radio WPS1.org, the world's first Internet art radio station. WPS1 produced hundreds of hours of curated programming from art fairs and festivals worldwide including the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami Beach, PERFORMA, and the Armory Show; featured a unique collection of music ranging from live recordings of the widely acclaimed P.S.1 summer Warm Up series to experimental music surveys; and partnered with numerous arts organizations to present recordings of public programs, events, performances, and radio profiles documenting the New York City cultural fabric.
In December 2008, Alanna Heiss left P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, negotiated a transfer of the Clocktower Gallery lease and WPS1 radio programs, and re-launched both under ARTonAIR.org. Since then, ARTonAIR re-vitalized the Clocktower Gallery’s exhibition and artist residency program and substantially increased its radio production, with programs ranging from in-depth coverage of the New York arts and culture scene to cooking shows, experimental music shows, and curated playlists by renowned DJs, musicians and composers. ARTonAIR quickly tripled its online audience, and restored the Clocktower Gallery’s role in New York City culture by making it accessible to visitors from around the world.
In December 2013, after 40 years of operation from its historic 1894 McKim, Mead & White building in Lower Manhattan, the Clocktower announced the final exhibition in this legendary space, and plans for relocation through a year of creative collaborations with partner organizations all over New York City. The Clocktower was located in a City-owned building on Leonard Street, which was sold to a developer with anticipated conversion for residential and commercial use. The Clocktower developed a groundbreaking new model for ongoing and overlapping collaboration with multiple organizations, covering a wide range of exhibitions, performances, residencies, and radio broadcasts, with partners Pioneer Works in Red Hook; Times Square Arts in Manhattan; Knockdown Center in Queens; Playland Motel in Far Rockaway; and Neuehouse in Manhattan.