The New Bridge and Tunnel Crowd
By HOLLAND COTTER
March 13, 2005
“Maybe because Queens has no cultural center – or rather because it has several, but spread miles apart – it has become the home of many of those self-created communities known as artists’ collectives. One, Flux Factory, occupies a floor in a converted factory in Long Island City, an environment that feels a little like a cross between a youth hostel and a space station.
The 15 resident members have their own rooms, but all amenities – bathrooms, a kitchen, a library, a computer lab, a dining room and a large exhibition space – are shared. So are expenses. With its nonprofit status, the collective’s members survive primarily on grants, on proceeds from their art and on a talent for frugality that they regard as an art in itself.
Much of their work is conceptual and performance based, as was the case in a three-month residency they did a few years ago at the Queens Museum of Art. Wearing bright orange coveralls, they clocked in every morning and more or less made up their work as they went. They began with an empty gallery and continually modified the space with gridlike screens and temporary barriers while doing their own projects: making collages, tabulating statistics, building contraptions. The result was a single installation, an accumulation of accumulations, a combination of theater, child’s play and ritual, a Rube Goldbergian version of everyday life.
This May they will present “Novel: A Living Installation Flux Factory,” in which three novelists – Laurie Stone, Ranbir Sidhu and Grant Baille – will live on-site, dining together, giving weekly public readings and trying to complete their novels by June 4. The point? To present the act of writing as both the private activity and audience-conscious public performance that it is. To suggest that art is always an activity as much as a product, and that any activity can be art. And to remind us that all of art’s sacred-cow concepts – creativity, inspiration, solitary genius – are fit subjects for laboratory testing.”