New York has historically been home to ethnically diverse immigrants, inspiring feelings and experiences related to migration, temporality, transformation, assimilation, or conflict. DRAFTspace is hosting this exhibition series to provoke attention and discussion about this sense of rootlessness.
The theme of rootlessness is connected to the unique space setup and location. The exhibit will not be held in a permanent gallery space. Instead, it will temporarily occupy a street-level vacant storefront that will be consecutively transformed to fit the different identity and characteristics of each exhibition. The Lower East Side where this event will take place has long been an immigrant neighborhood and has seen a series of immigrant communities pass through it. The area has undergone gentrification, starting in the mid-2000s and has since become home to upscale boutiques and numerous contemporary art galleries.
"I sit in a dimly lit jazz club, at a small rickety table, with people I don’t know, with my attention fully focused on the lit stage in front. The St. Petersburg Dixieland Jazz group comes on stage and in an instant I see my father in all of them. He had worked alongside them many years ago, before I was even born, at a time when Jazz was just beginning to gain ‘some’ acceptance in the USSR. They are all his age, and they play with such passion, fully embracing the jazz rhythm that originated in the American South. Then they begin to sing, and they are singing in English, yet with rather thick Russian accents, an unavoidable marker of their foreignness to this genre of music. More so, the group is singing about Louisiana, a state that was my initial home when coming to America. At that moment I felt grounded, I felt cultures, times, and worlds merge together."
- An account from artist's first trip back to Russia after 19 years
Site Specific Installation, Lower East Side of Manhattan
Acrylic paint skins, plastic, wood, Russian-English dictionaries, and audio recording
Audio played inside installation.
Recording and still-shot of stage taken by artist, where Leningrad Dixieland Jazz group performed.