Our thanks to Exit Art for these recordings, given to us in the weeks following Jeanette Ingberman's death in august 2011. Her spirit and commitment are forever remembered here. We treasure her as a part of the downtown community and all true efforts to put strength into ideas.
This program offers a glimpse into the people and history behind Exit Art, the New York alternative gallery and art center known for experiments in art and production and an activist commitment to new ideas . The following program is composed of excerpts from a series of wide ranging conversations that took place at Exit Art in July 2007. Executive Director Jeanette Ingberman, Artistic Director Papo Colo, and Archivist Audrey Christensen discuss the creation, operation, and adventure of the gallery over its 30 years.
Colo and Ingberman at first discuss the very beginnings of Exit Art, from the first days of their love story to the organization’s first exhibitions, the 1982 Illegal America which focused on issues of legality, censorship, and artists whose work and processes came in conflict with the law, and the 1982 Octopus, a highly collaborative anthology of 25 poets and visual artists who created a giant, outdoor book of poetry. Colo and Jeanette remember finding their place in the downtown New York scene, a decade after the beginning of the alternative spaces movement, and at the heart of a vibrant SoHo, where their provocative ideas and carefully researched exhibitions and projects drew irreverent, political audiences.
In the next section, recorded the next day, we listen as Papo Colo discusses the development of an artistic language which focused on ideas, and through which Exit Art became a center for new connections, an association for cultural production. The organization, through its deep connections with artists and ability to produce exhibitions, became a vehicle for artists and curators to make shared ideas public. Asked if they anticipated Exit Art would become such an influential space over the next 25 years, the two founders agree that they never imagined it, and this is perhaps the reason for the space’s success. Embarking on projects without thinking too about the various logistical hurdles, and creating what Colo describes as “a beautiful accident”, Exit Art was able to realize even the most ambitious ideas across various media, in their role as a translator of culture.
In the third section, recorded some days later, Colo and Ingberman explain that the way they worked on exhibition themes and ideas was almost always through constant conversations in and out of their studio. Exit Art was always committed to attracting experiments in art and production, and was committed to presenting exhibitions as the ideas emerged rather than when they were relevant to the political, social, or artistic climate.