Object Lessons at Proteus Gowanus

While we’re on the topic of emulation-worthy organizations (see previous post on Nudashank), we would be remiss if we didn’t profile one of the most intriguing and exciting exhibition spaces we’ve seen in a while. Proteus Gowanus, tucked into a turn-of-the-century former box factory just off its namesake canal in Brooklyn, is a fascinating mash-up of art gallery, cabinet of curiosity, history museum, natural science lab, artist’s studio, and bookstore/library. Their stated mission is to “create an alternative, culturally rich environment…where the boundaries between the artist and non-artist fade, where images and ideas from disparate disciplines are juxtaposed to create new meanings.” This delights us, as with our own focus on curatorial experimentation and wide-ranging interest in all aspects of visual culture, TYPOLOGY aspires to become a similarly hybrid space from which to stimulate dialogue and ideas between artists, art forms, images, objects, and audiences. Like a smaller, Canadian Proteus Gowanus, we’ll seek interdisciplinary collaborations to create a spirited and engaging space for exploration and discovery.

Interestingly, Proteus Gowanus establishes a yearly theme which serves as a conceptual framework for a multi-faceted and ambitious program of exhibitions, events, publications, and artists’ projects. Previous themes include Library, Transport, and Paradise; this year’s theme is Migration. Among many other intrepid programs and projects on the theme of migration, a fun and interactive exhibition, titled Object Migration, currently occupies three walls of the main space. In response to a call for objects with migratory stories, 50 contributors lent all manner of items, from proverbial trash to questionable treasure, each with its own handwritten story on yellow index cards. Hung on walls or informally arrayed on shelves, the objects invite close viewing and visitors are encouraged to pick up each item’s story to read at will.

Pictured below are a few of our favorites (click to enlarge), one of which will coincidentally be featured in tonight’s Object Lessons, a series of tiny talks taking selected objects as lenses through which to examine social patterns and history. If we were in New York, we would be there.



Read more about Proteus Gowanus on their website
See Migration programming here
Proteoscope blog post describing the Object Migration exhibition, here
Information on the Object Lessons talk and speakers’ bios, here

images, from top to bottom:
view over the Gowanus Canal at dusk;
Object Migration shelving; selected objects in the exhibition (top left: Santería thunderstone, top right: artist’s collection of bread tags, bottom left: petrified gas bubble (or, as their website so eloquently puts it, “50 million year old dinosaur fart”), bottom right: hat for one very lucky cat). Bookshelf photo from Proteus Gowanus website; all other photos by Shani K Parsons. 

a million thanks: David Michaelides

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