"Façades" | Solo exhibition by Sonya Blesofsky
Opening Reception: Saturday March 11, 6-8pm
On view through Sunday March 26.
Presented by Open Projects @ ALPHA (artspace)
292 E 3rd St #1B, New York, NY 10009
Open Projects is thrilled to present Façades, a solo show by Sonya Blesofsky at our ALPHA artspace. The exhibition will open Saturday March 11 with a reception from 6-8pm, and will be on view through Sunday March 26.
Sonya Blesofsky has devoted much of her artistic practice to exploring the endless cycle of urban change and its by-products: “architectural decay, structural failure, rapid redevelopment.” She further states: “I am interested in issues that come with urban development, such as the fragility of communities and lost histories, but I also intend these concerns to serve as metaphors for memory, personal upheaval, transition, and loss.” These concerns are manifested as architectural interventions, blind-embossing vignettes, and in-situ structures, built from salvaged material, so frail that they may collapse under their own weight.
In preparation for an exhibition, Blesofsky employs a two-step process of pre-production and production. Once a location has been selected, extensive research begins that informs the labor-intensive construction that follows on-site. For Façades, she concentrated her research to the Alphabet City neighborhood of the East Village NYC. Her research led to two historic buildings that embody the complex process of urban growth.
Cited in Hans Haake’s seminal 1971 artwork "Shapolsky Et Al...", which documents ownership and control of urban spaces, 292 East 3rd Street which is also where the gallery is situated, was inhabited by a group of squatters in the 1980s and transformed into livable housing. After a battle with the city, the squatters finally gained ownership of the building and now stands as victory for this community. At the other end of the spectrum, just four blocks away, sits 264 East 7th Street, a three-story rowhouse built in 1843, in a stretch of rowhouses once known as “Political Row” (because of the density of judges, lawyers and politicians connected to NYC’s Tammany Hall living in these buildings). Efforts by local preservationists to gain historic district designation have been unsuccessful and the building is now slated for demolition. Of these two buildings, Blesofsky states: "The rehabilitation of a failing structure by squatters at 292 East 3rd St., and the blatant disregard of developers to preserve an historic structure, at 264 East 7th St., represent diametric circumstances in the cyclical process of New York City’s development."
Operating under these polar opposite, Blesofsky undertakes the task to realize her vision at ALPHA. She examines, marks, scores and cuts the walls. With surgical precision and draughtsmanship, she carefully removes portions of the walls to create her “windows”. It’s an archeological venture that will reveal unknown or forgotten histories of the site.
With these works, Blesofsky gives us a glimpse inside the walls that surround us. On our behalf, she also asserts control over the seemingly uncontrollable forces of urban development. In our current political climate, her work seems to be even more poignant, when all appears to be open for disruption. Hard-won rights for equality might be rolled back at any moment; our foundations are no longer stable. By intervening and temporarily altering the space, Blesofsky is controlling the speed of the fast-moving cycle of decay/demolition/renovation. Her work seems to empower us, if only on short-term basis.
Sonya Blesofsky is an installation artist. Her site-specific work deals with architectural fragility –not only the troubling weakness of physical structures, but also the tenuous nature of the memory and history of a particular place. Blesofsky received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and BA from UC Santa Cruz. She has held numerous residencies including Urban Glass, the Lower East Side Printshop, Museum of Arts and Design, CUE Art Foundation, Smack Mellon, Dieu Donne, LMCC’s Workspace:120 Broadway, Vermont Studio Center (fellowship,) and the California Legion of Honor. Blesofsky’s work has been shown in New York at galleries including Mixed Greens, Plane Space, Cleopatra’s, Islip Art Museum, Present Co., and Smack Mellon. She has also shown nationally at galleries in Miami, San Francisco, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Washington DC. Blesofsky’s work has been written about in The Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, NYFA Current, Art Fag City, Hand Papermaking Magazine and The Brooklyn Rail. Born in Boston and raised in California, she currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.