Moore Street Market

Artist: organized by ISCP
Location: Brooklyn, New York City, USA
Year of completion:
Researcher: Laine Bergeson

In New York City, collaborations between artists, residency programs, and community organizations are not as common as one might expect. It’s partly due to a lack of funding, notes Juliana Cope, special projects program manager at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, and partly an aversion to risk-taking. These concerns are amplified when collaborations produce temporary or ephemeral works.

Artists Minja Gu, Francisco Montoya Cázarez, Su Yu-Hsien, and Lotte Van den Audenaeren, together with the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) and the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, overcame these structural and financial challenges to present the Moore Street Market Projects. Installed at the open-air marketplace in 2011 and 2012, these participatory works helped collapse boundaries and foster a sense of community for visitors and shoppers.

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Francisco Montoya Cázarez and Su Yu-Hsien, based in Germany and Taiwan respectively, presented Body and Soul. This work was a series of different interventions that helped address the needs of the marketplace vendors. In one location, the two artists placed the fabric of broken umbrellas over the glass roof to shield workers from the bright sunlight. In other areas, they installed portable fans to discourage fruit flies from hovering near the produce. A third component of Body and Soul involved a video installation featuring an advertisement for a botánica in which the owner describes both tangible and intangible goods for sale. The artists endeavored to develop a rapport between artists, shoppers, and the market itself.

In Atlantic-Pacific, Minja Gu created a market within a market. She set up a functional store within the market that sold “the plunder and booty of adventuresome explorers” says Cope. A logbook and map that told the adventures of the fictional explorers sat adjacent to these fantastical wares. Gu hoped the objects, collected from around Brooklyn, would help visitors reinterpret their value. The artist also hoped to summon images of historic colonial trading companies and to show that commodities, much like people, have their own social lives.

Belgian artist Lotte Van den Audenaeren played with context and atmosphere in her Moore Street installation. Potentialis, which is Dutch for “potential modus,” is an apt name for these suggestive, sometimes secretive, installations. One component of the installation was a phosphorescent vinyl cutout, hung in a space only accessible by the market’s workers. Another element of the artwork, a phosphorescent silkscreen repetition of the words “more or less or,” covered an entire wall, yet was nearly invisible unless lit and viewed from a certain angle. “The subtlety of the work shows how art in a public space need not dominate or overwhelm,” says Cope. “But how it can linger on and make present what is already there, creating elegant effects.”

These installations have impacted the Market in subtle but profound ways, says Cope, helping vendors and visitors see the space in a new way. Perhaps the most significant impact for the community at large was the project’s success in generating interest in—and money for—more public art projects in the region. The ISCP has already used the success of the Moore Street Market Projects to leverage support for future artist and curator-led projects, including works along the Superfund site at Newtown Creek and a long-term collaboration with the housing rights organization, Los Sures, which is also based in Brooklyn.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency