This years D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge festival -- the 13th Annual -- was an art and performance filled weekend, and not to be missed. The turnout was great, the Dumbo Art Center gallery show was encompassing, and the artworks thoughout the neighborhood were diverse, fun and engaging.
At the Dumbo Art Center on Washington Street, The Experience of Green, created by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen, was a Chelsea-quality gallery installation of huge, abstracted trees made of red paper, some of which you can walk into. This installation took 6 months of planning and labor, and the resulting environment is encompassing and very impressive, a veritable fantasy forest for children and adults alike.
Across the street, Jai Hi Ahn and Deborah Simon's works were located in the building lobby of 33 Washington. Ahn's Waterscape of blue PVC tubes created an abstract cloud hovering and seemingly referencing the river nearby, and Simon's Northern Fur Seals, dive from the ceiling in a menacing but quasi-playful way.
Chin Chih Yang's interactive performance up the street, Human Sculpture, invited viewers to attach difference pieces of trash to his body to create a new body suit for him... was it armor, or a new business suit, or a monster disguise? Children and adults were all loving the process, and actively engaged in foraging through the garbage materials, and taping things onto Yang, who also seemed to be having a great time being transformed.
Olek's 100% Acrylic Art Guards, in their knitted camoflauge and acrylic full-body garments could be seen at different locations throughout the festival, guarding the park as bizarre otherworldly sentries, posing in front of the gallery, or walking silently though the festival. Not quite menacing, but also not inviting, I felt attracted but also wary. I couldn't fuily place what their intent was.
The performance piece by Alexandra Halky caught my eye immediately, and was a very pleasant surprise. Halky is a h.s. festival intern and was in an arts internship program led by Victoria Calabro, (their teacher), and in collaboration with DAC. This piece was the culmination of the internship and a great indicator of the high-quality work we all have to look forward to as these young artists continue to mature. Bravo!
Hidemi Takagi's multi-colored and multi-cultural photographs of foods purchased from throughout the 5 boroughs, Blender, had a very playful spirit, and brought some of Corona's Lemon ice King's sweets to the festival which the kids and adults all loved.
I stumbled upon Anemone, by Myde El-Maghrabi, and was enchanted by this strange-looking vegetation. It looked so natural and seemingly indigenous to the environment, but obviously was manmade because of its size and attached lighting.
Test-a-Bunny by Kate Kaman and Joel Erland made me laugh nervously, and I enjoyed the interactive and challenging scientific nature of the piece...
Sean Capone's Camera Rosetum was a standout computer animated video projection in the Archway. The dramatic Archway space was beautifully reconstructed by the Dumbo Improvement District this month, and Capone's dynamic and baroque visual imagery brought the space to life. Spanning the entire Archway ceiling space with 6 digital projectors, this monumental video projection was mesmerizing and at times breathtaking. A technical feat as much as an aesthetic one, we look forward to seeing more of Capone's work in the near future, and also to see what the Dumbo Improvement District will show there next.
Ed Purver's video projection A Show of Hands was another monumental video installation at the festival. A Show of Hands was projected onto an abandoned building in the park and this video was much more playful than Capone's. With huge projected hands coming out of windows and going back into them, playing with a ball, and signing enigmatic messages in American Sign Language, this video seemed to invite discussion about communication, and the limits and merits of attempting to bridge the gaps between us.
Erin Hudak's Rainbow Connection was a colorful, handwoven wigwam in Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, which seemed like a safe refuge for the alternate lifestyle dreamer.
An Xiao's Phone-tastic View, which prompted viewers to text into their cell phone, gave Festival participants another perspective on the festival, skyline and bridge... Xiao's related project of getting funding for this sign using Kickstart, inform this work and Xiao's larger new media practice, and can be found on her Facebook page... Very interesting reading as background.
Gretchen Vitamvas's performance Ghost, invited festival viewers to consider women, war and history, as she slowly glided throughout the festival, not fully here, but not really there either.