"I think SiTE:LAB is a world-class installation group or whatever they call themselves. You could bring this to Documenta in Germany and it would be respected."
Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic, New York magazine
For 2015 and 2016, SiTE:LAB has been presented with a unique opportunity for its most ambitious project to date. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County in Michigan has offered SiTE:LAB the use of nearly three acres of land in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood. The plan is to turn the land and existing structures into a temporary art center and residency until Habitat begins its redevelopment of the properties starting in 2017.
This will be a community based project, working with the City of Grand Rapids, Habitat for Humanity, community partners and local groups as well as local schools and universities. The SiTE:LAB team is excited to work with, and highlight the Roosevelt Park neighborhood.
a SiTE:LAB initiative
In an effort to transform the Rumsey Street site we decided to move a house. Once the house was positioned onto its new site, Julie Schenkelberg used it for her project TransMigration.
SiTE:LAB is pleased to include this exhibition of the work of Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978) as part of its 2016 ArtPrize exhibition. Although not an ArtPrize entry, these four short films are being presented in recognition of the debt that SiTE:LAB and the artists participating in the Rumsey Street Project owe to this pioneer in site-specific art. SiTE:LAB wishes to thank the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark for its generosity in making this exhibition possible.
The DisArt HYBRID Gallery will offer a context for both the HYBRID STRUCTURES installation and the ELEVATE Fashion Show by helping visitors understand the complex nature of disability and its expression through art. Designed to showcase new ideas in creative access, universal/human-centered design, and diversity, the gallery will be a celebration of disability arts and culture. The gallery will include an exhibition of documentary photography by the renowned disability rights photographer Tom Olin. Audience members also will be invited to watch videos, read texts and interact with images that help offer a deeper understanding of the way art and disability work within the human condition.
ELEVATE: Fashion Show
DisArt used HYBRID STRUCTURES as a runway for its ELEVATE Fashion Show. Disabled models from the Grand Rapids area wore curated fashions made by designers from New York, Chicago, Mexico, Boston and West Michigan.
The ELEVATE Fashion Show was a multimedia experience that included video projections on buildings, a state-of-the-art light show and digital audio, produced by the KBOgroup,
The show was hosted by WOOD TV8's host of eightWest, Rachael Ruiz and the one and only Kevin Mathews!
The fashion show, visible from many vantage points on the Rumsey Street Project site, was audio-described for visually impaired audience members, and was also interpreted in American Sign Language.
Robert Andy Coombs, fashion lead for DisArt, produced the 2015 DisArt Festival Fashion Show. He explains, “After the great success of the 2015, show I was delighted to get the opportunity to work with DisArt again. I was immediately excited to learn that we would be collaborating with SiTE:LAB in order to make HYBRID STRUCTURES double as the runway! This show will be more dynamic and diverse than the last with all-new amazing designs and creative vision.”
Gene Davidson and The Edge Salon did hair and makeup for the event.
The fashion show was streamed live for those who are unable to attend.
Alois Kronschlaeger + Paul Amenta + Ted Lott
HYBRID STRUCTURES was conceived by Alois Kronschlaeger in collaboration with Paul Amenta, and Ted Lott of Lot3Metz Architecture, in creative partnership with Chris Smit of DisArt. This architectural intervention was a response to the abandoned buildings that line the Northside of Rumsey Street which include: the deconsecrated Catholic church, rectory, school building, and convent. A series of ramps traversed, pierced, and connected these structures, providing an accessible and inclusive exploration of the site. New vantage points were created into the abandoned buildings as well as the surrounding site, granting visitors an opportunity to experience Rumsey Street in new and extraordinary ways. Access became art.
250 Prepared AC-Motors, 325KG Roof Lath, 1.0KM Rope
My works are based on direct and simple systems which open the door to a wide range of encounters, confrontations and discoveries. I keep my works deliberately abstract so as to open ample space for disputes, interpretation and associations. This, in turn, renders my works particularly attractive for display outside the usual exhibition settings and in public spaces. The directness of the systems creates spaces and possibilities for discoveries, which are accessible and comprehensible also for an audience without a background in art. At the same time, it is this very directness that integrates art into the daily life of society, and which enriches, irritates and activates it.
Lora Robertson + Kevin Draper
A permanent gift for the community: Rehabilitate the façade of the church to its original appearance. Renovate the bell tower. Landscape the front yard with a grove of cherry trees that represent a congregation. The exterior signage will be used to show a short film, with the score playing invisibly in the grove near and around the sign. The sign has two faces, and so would the film. The film is: A narrative describing the identity shift of Maria, a long-time Roosevelt Park resident, who came to Michigan as a migrant worker, but then planted a prolific garden for her own pleasure. This is a personal narrative of the life of neighborhood inhabitants, told in a fantastical manner with live action and stop motion animation, and woven together with elements of neighborhood gardens. This film is the sermon that will be preached by the church sign, as the Angel looks down from the tower on its congregation.
Christmas Eve, 1933
Artist Mark Dion interrogates the form, function and politics of museum display and exhibition. The institutional convention of the period room, those meticulous reconstructions of interiors frozen in time, have been a focus of Dion’s work for some time and he has produced period room installations for a number of museums. Christmas Eve, 1933, is a carefully refurbished room within the rectory of the parish church of St. Joseph the Worker on Rumsey Street. The scene recreates the cluttered parlor of a parish priest about to return home after the last service of the evening. The building’s interiors, otherwise unoccupied and deteriorating, stands in stark contrast to the melancholic domestic scene of Christmas Eve, 1933.
This installation and period rooms in general takes their queues from several existing genres. The diorama format resembles a stage set without an actor. It is also reminiscent of Dutch still life paintings depicting a partially finished meal. In those forms, the presence of a person is suggested by their absence, the implication being that the individual has temporarily left the setting, and will return at any moment. This can elicit in viewers an uncomfortable sense of being an uninvited voyeur.
Mark Dion has created large-scale installations that recontextualize museum collections, creating new narratives that challenge our ideas about institutional and personal systems of ordering and classification. Sometimes ideas that underpin our beliefs and actions exist without being noticed, and even a small disruption of expectations can open our minds to new possibilities. The work for ArtPrize was keenly influenced by the history of the rectory building and its future demolition.
Assembled from dozens of private, commercial, and institutional collections, Christmas Eve, 1933, inspires visitors to make connections and construct the history of the individual who inhabited this place.
The site-specific installation California Dreaming is concerned with the medial emergence of places. In my work I explore how the film industry creates gentrified dream-places, whether it is in a series such as “Girls”, which has contributed to the gentrification of Greenpoint in Brooklyn, or in the Hollywood classic The Night of the Iguana (1964), which has turned an untouched sandy beach in the Mexican state of Jalisco into a monstrous tourist destination.
But in its films, Hollywood not only constructs places, it also destroys them. In the recently released film San Andreas, the whole of California collapses in an earthquake. Disaster not only strikes within apocalyptic Hollywood plots where whole cities are swallowed by natural disasters, but also in reality through economic development. New ways of gas and oil drilling leave behind toxic waste and broken communities, for the benefit of fast-moving markets and marginal gain in the global economy.
Grand Rapids is located in Michigan in the old “Rust Belt,” and is doing far better economically than close-by cities like Flint or Detroit. The Rust Belt, once known to be one of the most prosperous regions in the world, is now declining in its economic fortune. With it whole towns disappear, or like Detroit, are shrinking from millions to a few hundred thousand inhabitants. Here I will try to look into the abandoned industrial sites, once home to the working class in the golden area of the U.S., but now a predominantly low-income area with a high crime rate.
Francisco Ugarte’s work is based on the grounds of architecture, mainly during the creative process: the proposal is generated from a deep focus in the environment, and it’s a response to it. Using a variety of media including site-specific interventions, video, installation, sculpture and drawing, his work can be understood as a phenomenological exercise in which reality is comprehended through contemplation, perception and the essence of things.
As a first step, internal walls were removed from the area, the first floor, leaving only the wood structure needed to support the roof, so that the space is free and clean. The walls, ceiling, and original floors of the room were stripped of all coatings that were originally used for functional, maintenance, and comfort reasons, so they could show their primary structure. Architecture in its most basic mode.
As a second step, a circular panoramic curtain was installed in this space. This element will work as a phenomenological receptor and will be affected mainly by the light and wind that comes through the wall openings.
Francisco is interested in allowing the visitor to experience the essential features of the space, and the variations that occur in place as the result of the passage of time. He attempts to produce a phenomenological and perceptive experience of here and now.
Nuns on Ramp
Nuns on Ramp is a highly ritualistic experience inspired by Hybrid Structures, a piece created by Paul Amenta, Alois Kronschlaeger, and Ted Lott in the site of the old church at Rumsey Street. This fantastic structure goes through the old buildings of the church, the nunnery and the priests’ house opening spaces of accessibility and love, shaking up its bricks and stories and waking up the ghosts of the nuns and priests that will parade on the ramp, creating processions, performances of rituals and rapture.
Rustic Sputnik is a site-specific sculptural installation created from a dissembled carriage house at 345 Franklin Street, built on the site of a former residence turned debris covered vacant lot at 334 Rumsey Street. Drawing from the site history and available materials, Rustic Sputnik is second in a series of Sputnik sculptures that play with ideas of relics and reliquaries, the discovery and excavation of future artifacts, the mystery of unidentified objects and “fellow travelers,” as well as mythologies, transformations, and ancient symbols.
Ciclo Grand Rapids
Ciclo Grand Rapids will explore how we relate with our surroundings, and then temporarily activate the public space providing new narrative and memory.
Ciclo Grand Rapids will focus on creating awareness in gender inequality in city rights. We want to explore different ways to transit the city, under the premise that public spaces englobe invisible prohibitions and neglections for women’s activities, resulting in social practices that deny the equality in use and transit with a negative impact in the symbolic, cultural and recreative use we give to urban life.
Mexican muralist Paola Beck will create a site-specific installation in the format of large scale collage with local content. By making the feminine narratives visible as a symbolic gesture, the living process of creating this installation can be a powerful and effective method in changing the idea that the natural space for women to be is in private.
I am transforming a house into sculpture. Growing up in Cleveland, I have imagined how the decaying city, in its mysterious state could be reborn into an artful story. I longed to honor the abandoned buildings’ history and recreate them into a new state of being. This is why I have entitled my project TransMigration, it is a rebirth to see a neglected structure breath into another form. The house project is a female appropriation of large- scale sculpture; working on a massive scale has traditionally been a male artist’s language. My work is about splitting and investigating materials that belong to the history and psychology of the home, using a whole house as my medium, is a natural step into this exploration.
The house is being relocated to a parking lot behind it, changing the address of the house. I am extracting the house to its original structure and making a series of 4’ by 2’ cuts around the exterior and interior, with light projection through it in the evening.
Excavations is an intervention into the concrete foundation around 341 Franklin Street. Using a diamond saw, I will score, grind and cut entirely through the slab, lifting out blocks and repositioning them around the site. Formally, these structures may read like minimalist sculpture or an architectural echo of the buildings that used to occupy this site. At the same time, the adjacent holes of exposed earth left from the removal of the concrete will eventually become activated as weeds start to grow in this long dormant soil. In Excavations, the entire site is a latent material, that through cutting, marking and relocating sections of the slab, will be transformed from an overlooked space into a site of uncertain potentiality.
IU Bloomington, Graduate Sculpture Program
In Inside Outside the Graduate Students of Indiana University have interwoven their four distinctive installation-based works at 339 Franklin St. SW. Regardless of the outwardly diverse appearances of the works installed on the property, the artists find cohesion in their themes and architectural interventions. The individual artists operate on varying planes in both media and in subject – such as the controversial methods of water conservation, the interpersonal balance of communication and silence, the unpleasant affect of tourism, and symbols of North American cultural shift. The members of this group individually intervened with the existing structures in very unique ways, but interconnectivity exists in their overlapping in themes of instability and transformation, loss and rebirth, strength and vulnerability, and external vs. internal environments.
Catie Newell + Ian Strange
345 Franklin reduces a standing house to a single sliver. It intervenes in the existing spatial mass in order to suggest a dramatic diminishing of interior space. The intervention contracts the house into its central interior through a set of visually simple but decisive cuts, rendering the interior radically open but functionally inaccessible.
The careful incisions of 345 Franklin are a direct reference to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (1974), and they gesture toward the negative space created in that seminal work by creating its inverse: a mass. As they prepare to demolish the house down to the central sliver, the artists plan to fully contract the space of the house by using the exposed interior sliver as a stand-alone sculptural work in the future.
Of Plank and Nail
Ana Belen Cantoni
A piece of parasitic architecture goes through the roof of the house and expands in its interior.
Built using recycled copper and wood, its structure is simple and open, meant to emphasize the fragility of the construction and the labor behind it.
This piece was prompted by the spider webs and shelters made by animals that were inhabiting the property, which had been empty for more than a year.
These images are a part of a ten-year-long project titled American Reclamation. This photographic essay has covered many aspects of the recycling industry ranging from cement recovery, electronics, paper, steel, tires, trains, ships, and the repurposing of one of the largest land fills in America.
The latest addition to American Reclamation features the reclaimed materials at PADNOS. Founded in Holland, Michigan in the early 1900s by Louis Padnos, the company has thrived as a family business through four generations and has grown to be a market leader. Featuring images of reclaimed paper, steel, aluminum, turnings, trimmings, and post industrial plastics, these painterly photographs nd beauty in collections of collected materials that are waiting for their next purpose. This project is also going to be published early 2017 in my upcoming book.