A revolutionary picnic
taking The Shed to task on their promise to become “the new ritual space for the 21st century”….
Intervention: May 2019, Hudson Yards NYC
Artists involved with the organization & mise en scene of this revolutionary picnic (“the Shed Breakers” as we refer to ourselves, fondly) :
marion storm budwig
Revolutionary references accompanying us in this project:
Artist at Work, Proximity of Art and Capitalism (Bojana Kunst); Emergent Strategy (adrienne maree brown); this article written about The Shed as it was opening, by Claire Bishop, bless her; the work of local, national, and international arts labor movements; and more.
Reflecting on The Shed Protest Picnic of 2019, Some Time Later
~ written by storm, to be included in Janine’s forthcoming Master thesis.
25 february 2021
“…the more radical proposition would be a cultural institution that includes within its architecture crucial services like a public school, day care, or a branch of the New York Public Library.”
– Claire Bishop, prophetically
Sitting in on the Shed / Hudson Yards’ privately owned public space over a picnic of fruit with fellow citizen artists was a slight reprieve from all the times that I fail to give my consent to participate in other invisible Capitalist-based structures that rob us of resources while pretending & performing exactly otherwise. Of course it’s not entirely my failure, since POP space is never ganna ask and is never going to be explicitly clear in how duplicitous their fake community offering really is. But still sometimes I feel like I’m failing to keep track of all the ways I’m complicit. Today didn’t feel that way!
It’s galvanizing to stop the mechanics of the money machine even if just for the seven or eight minutes we were able to sit and have a picnic and muse over Judith Butler (who else was with us at our picnic? Audre? adrienne maree?) before I had to get up (in my fabulous black dress and heels like I was dressed for the funeral we should all be dressed for walking onto these kinds of grounds) and talk to this Mall Cop equivalent security guard. He wore sunglasses that had a Secret Security level intensity but I had my clipboard. Common. He was charged with removing us and for sure he did but not before some passersby asked us what we were doing and we told them. We made stickers, too, to paste inside The Shed’s bathroom stalls, but we didn’t end up getting that far. I wonder what would have happened if we had. Do we still have that website linked to the QR code? On it you will find the essay written by Bishop, the sentiment of which is in deep alliance with our poetic critique of the Shed for posing to do a thing instead of doing it. The essay is luscious, and everyone should read it whenever they’re wondering if they’re making things up or does the Shed actually suck. You’re not making things up, it sucks.
Since that time I’ve become more disheartened by the kind of public intervention we did, largely because things are so fucked up and the politics of liveness are so complicated that it’s easy to wonder if I’m (I’ll speak for myself) actually helping, hurting, dissolving, problematizing, or growing the thing I’m trying to critique. However — because we must live in the land of complexity and get cozy — I want to do this again, and bigger, with different steps, with rituals of compassion and care woven more tightly throughout, and maybe slightly more oriented toward a proper strike. Get the artists on the inside involved. (Who are you guys?) Invite some press. Schedule it on the first of May and then the first of all the rest of the months after until some of the following happens:
* Hudson Yards orchestrates a station for mutual aid or resource exchange for the neighborhood.
* The Shed turns its lobby into a pop up clinic giving out Covid vaccines and petitions other cultural centers to join them.
* We force realtors to change the name of “POP” so that it stands for People Oppressing Politics or something like that that at least names what’s going on.
* As per Claire Bishop: We bring back that pop up space temporary version of the Shed built by Kunlé Adeyemi because that was way cooler, way more interesting, and way more sustainable.
It was beautiful to conceive of this protest picnic. I think we could take it further. And absolutely I will be dressed as if attending another Wake, because–