Inaugural Group ShowOctober–November 1970 112 Greene Street/Workshop
Inaugural group show at 112 Greene Street.
Excerpt from Brentano, R., & Savitt, M. (1981). 112 Workshop, 112 Greene Street: History, artists & artworks. New York: New York University Press:
BILL BECKLEY installed several pieces during this period. His first was a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, which was placed face-down on newspaper, directly on the basement floor. The next piece consisted of an amplifier set on a shelf, a microphone inserted into the wall (again in the basement where it was difficult to see), and two sets of speakers on either side of the amplifier faced against the wall. He then did three pieces with a “film of a meadow, shot in August, ‘still’ except for a flying bird”; the first piece was projected onto a ½ thick sheet of glass. The second installation was made by hanging the projector from the ceiling by its cord at the bottom of the stairs to the basement. For the third, he set the projector on an extended windowsill and aimed it at the window. [description taken from the artist’s notes]
BILL BOLLINGER exhibited a wheelbarrow on which he had placed two-by-fours with loose dirt resting on them.
DAVID BRADSHAW and JAMES BROWN exhibited photos of a black man and a white man hunting.
RAPHAEL FERRER’s work was described by Peter Schjeldahl as a dark canvas canopy dramatically shading a heavy framework of boards mounted on galvanized pails.”
LEE JAFFE wrapped two pillars in the basement with heavy rubber tubing which held a piece of broken mirror in place agains one of the pillars. Taped to the mirror was a newspaper clipping picturing someone with a double-identity (who may have been a South American revolutionary, according to Jaffee). Later in the season, the artist made another piece by removing the small thick pieces of glass which were imbedded in the sidewalk grating in front of 112 and replacing them with mirrors.
BARRY LE VA exhibited Cleaved Wall (Bending) (1969), an evenly-spaced row of ten meat cleavers which he banged into the wainscotting in the basement.
JEFFERY LEW used pieces of steel from the floor of 112 Greene to make a large tank, which he filled with water. He made another rectilinear form of polyester resin and stone material on plywood, filled it with water to a certain point, and allowed it to float free in the tank. “It looked like ice floating around, and it dealt with certain forces… If you press down on the polyester form, instead of popping back up, it went down even further.” (J.L.) Later, he showed plastic boxes, suspended on cables, inclining at an angle to the wall.
GORDON MATTA-CLARK’s work was changing daily and much of what he did then was never documented.
At the bottom of the steps to the basement is an old sidewalk elevator shaft. Matta built a bin in the shaft where he placed old bottles of every sort that he had collected and had his friends bring to him from all over New York. He also grew mushrooms in the bin, and called it Winter Garden; mushroom and waistbottle the bin, and recycloning cellar. “In the sunlight, with all that green glass, it was very beautiful,” Caroline Godden recalls. Later, the artist built a furnace in which he melted the glass bottles and made “commemorative ingots” (according to Richard Haynes). During this period, Matta “was involved with taking garbage, discarded items, and abandoned or dead spaces and making them come to life again. He saw life in everything.” (C.G.) Since 1969, he had been making pieces using agar, a gelatinous substance from the sea, which he poured into enormous flat trays. ‘The agar acted as a virulent host for micro-organisms in the air and eventually dried out into beautiful, leathery fabrics of dormant life.” One of the trays reportedly blew up on New Year’s Day, 1971, so the other was taken out to the street for detonation. The pieces were called Incendiary Wafers. In other works (at 112 Greene or elsewhere), Matta used the agar as a matrix for binding together objects such as empty milk cartons and cut-up comic books to make large rectilinear conglomerate sculptures. Matta also applied gold leaf to the capital of one of the columns in the space upstairs. After Christmas, Matta dug a hole in the basement floor and planted a Cherry tree in it and grass seeds on the mound of earth beside the hole. There were no lights in the basement at the time, so he hung an infrared lamp nearby. “Later on, after the tree died, perhaps because it didn’t take root, Gordon made a memory… a grave for the tree with a silver line dug out of the cement in the shape of the tree. lt must still be there under the (Big Apple) recording studio. That piece was very powerful. ” (C.G.)
BRENDA MILLER made Ceiling Piece “out of sisal, measuring 18′ across by25′ in length and hanging down 6’; At 5′ intervals there were rows of 6′ lengths of sisal attached to the ceiling at one-inch intervals for a total of 18′, which equals one-half of the width of 112. The 6′ lengths were one-third the distance from floor to ceiling. The 25′ space was approximately one-half the working space (depth) available to me.”
LARRY MILLER showed a bunch of fresh carrots which he wired together to form the shape of an enormous carrot. He installed it on the basement floor. Jeffrey Lew said, “lt was like a giant piece of jewelry.”
RICHARD NONAS exhibited Blocks of Wood in the basement. The installation consisted of a single row, about 30′ in length, of short, standing plank ends, roughly sawed off at slightly varying angles and heights and placed parallel to each other. Another work was constructed of a long beam which rested at an angle to the floor in the arms of a crossmember section. He also tied a bunch of wood pieces, about 4′ in length, together and hung them with a rope about 5′ long at an angle to a basement wall which had a cross-hatched cement surface. Upstairs, on the street level, he exhibited another floor piece made from 12 large blocks of wood, rough-hewn, and carefully, yet casually, fitted together (January, 1971). Later, he hung a very large drawing which said, “‘Pay me what you owe me or vomit what you ate.”
DOUG SANDERSON created three or four sculpture/ drawings both upstairs and downstairs. He poured plaster of Paris with sand and glass in it directly on the floor and did “”hand drawings” in the mixture.
ALAN SARET had been working on a series of sculptures which were made from sheet metal cornices salvaged from an old cast-iron building on the corner of Canal and Greene streets. He brought one of these pieces into the space and hung it from the ceiling. In his own studio at 119 Spring Street, Saret had been making enormous bamboo sculptures, which he placed in bundles through a hole that he cut in the floor at the back of his space. He placed some of these bamboo pieces in 112 as well. He installed another work in the basement, a special form of Rubber, Raffia, Cloth, Tube and Wire-weights draped over an old rag-picker’s scale. Hexagonal bars of brass and aluminum were added to the network, so that the wire supported the rubber and cloth which in turn held the weights.
MARJORIE STRIDER had been looking around for a place to experiment with her brightly-colored plastic foam, when Lew, who was living upstairs at 112 Greene Street at the time, arranged for her to use the front windows of the building. A photo of Building Work #1 was featured in an article in which appeared Die Welt.
RICHARD VAN BUREN: “For the opening at 112 Greene, I decided that I did not want to bring objects into the space. The gallery seemed alive to me without latex-white-skin walls and sanded varnished floors. It was a chance to use the space before it became another Art Gallery. The network of cracks between the boards was the space that I chose. I thought of the cracks as molds. I cast into the the molds with polyester resin until they were filled. The piece could be experienced in the gallery, on the ceiling of the basement, and on the floor of the basement. I was interested in building a situation that would point out to other artists what existed at 112 in terms of architecture and attitude.”