Li-Ming Hu is an interdisciplinary artist who employs a carnivalesque sensibility, to explore the relationships between cultural production and the construction of subjectivities.
Flux Takes ‘Novel’ Approach To Art
“Novel” makes writers and their lives part of a new exhibit at Flux Factory.
By Molly Langmuir
For the past three months, Ian Montgomery has been rummaging through dumpsters, collecting wood. “It’s all found wood,” he said as he walked through the small living space he was constructing in Flux Factory’s gallery. It was one of three such spaces furiously being built last Friday that are part of a living installation at Long Island City’s Flux Factory.
On Saturday, May 7, three writers were enclosed in the habitats and for the next 30 days they will live in them, emerging at the end having completed a novel. Every day the writers are allowed to leave for an hour and a half, but each time they do they have to sign out a card with the time they leave, the time they return, and the reason for leaving. At the end of the 30 days, all the time cards will be displayed on the walls of the gallery.
Each night, the writers will eat together, with the meals provided by guest chefs and local restaurants. Once a week, they will be allowed to use their cell phones.
“We’re regulating them,” said Kerry Downey, who is curating the show with Morgan Meis, “But the idea is that with a couple regulations they can focus.”
Montgomery’s domicile is the only one with a window to the outside world and the view is the very large and decidedly unorganic-looking New York Presbyterian Church across the street. Inside the space, a found-wood staircase curved up to the second level, where there was a Spartan looking bed and a large bell hanging next to it. By the window were shelves with books and a bottle of Aberlour whiskey.
Montgomery said he was leaving the whiskey for the writer.
Down on the first level, there was a desk, a small fridge, and some grasses growing under a bright light. “The plant life will mark the time,” Montgomery said, and then pointed up to the wooden slats that made up the roof, “The roof is also growing.” The floor will be covered in dirt to catalogue the areas of movement.
Once the writers and artist/architects had been chosen, the group had to decide amongst themselves who they would be paired with. As it turned out, Montgomery got Grant Bailie, Salazar Davis Architects got Laurie Stone, and Tricky ink. got Ranbir Sidhu. Each living space is entirely different. Salazar Davis’s, which was being worked on by Paul Davis last Friday, was going to have white wall-to-wall carpeting, translucent plastic shingles and a zebra stripe on the outside. Davis said, when finished, it would look something like “a glowing chartreuse zebra-striped box.”
Each week, there will be public readings on Saturdays, and viewers can come observe the writers at work Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Stone, the writer paired with Salazar Davis, had expressed that she was nervous about being observed. In response, Davis explained that her space was set up in such a way that Stone would be able to see the visitor better than the visitor could see her. “She called herself our rat,” Davis said. “We’ve made the visitor her rat.”
Tricky ink’s installation, which will house Ranbir Sidhu, has walls made of shipping boxes. Their domicile was described by Downey as more process oriented than the other two. “It’s about compartmentalization,” Downey said, “and about how the writer accumulates ideas.”
Flux Factory is also very process oriented. Asked what would happen if the writers didn’t produce a novel after the 30 days, Downey said that there was only so much Flux Factory could do, “We’re doing this because we believe in the process.”
For directions and specific hours go to www.fluxfactory.org.