An Old Door Factory Is Now a Giant Art Playground

See a 'Cadillac' of paper towels and IV drip equipment become a drum orchestra at the Knockdown Center.

by Noémie Jennifer
Jul 15 2015, 2:30pm

All images courtesy the Clocktower

Sound, installation, and performance art inhabit Knockdown Center's 50,000 square foot space in Queens, New York this month, for a second installment of Clocktower's exhibition Anxious Spaces: Installation as Catalyst. The renovated warehouse—once a glass factory, then a door factory—feels today like an immense, post-industrial cathedral complex one can easily get lost in. The exhibition's title "refers to a certain demand of the artists, and then of the audience, to reconsider everything about the building's design and role," explains Joe Ahearn, who co-curated the exhibition with Alanna Heiss. 

He adds: "For me, this sort of exploration is best achieved by pairing a wide breadth of performance styles with visual artists. This happens in alternative art spaces all over the world outside the white-box format, but there are few places other than Knockdown that you might be able to pair so many of these worlds with one another under a single roof."

The exhibition presents site-specific work from eight artists. Will Ryman, known for his sculptures of oversized flora, turns his attention to the man-made with Cadillac, a replica of a 1958 Eldorado Biarritz made entirely out of resin and Bounty paper towels. Nearby, Ben Mortimer's One and the Other reads like a catastrophe frozen in time: a curtain of shattered glass falls diagonally into a structure of splintered wood emerging from the floor.

GIF by the author, via

Molly Lowe invites visitors to sit on a patch of grass to watch her sound/video installation Growth. Tight close-ups of plants unfurling are magnified on screen, and the effect seems apt to either terrorize or turn you on.

Aurora Halal, too, aims to hypnotize, turning a subterranean annex into a foggy dream-world of video projections, holographic images, and paranoid soundscapes entitled Exactly Where I Am. Meanwhile, in an off-site ruin, the duo Prince Rama present Fountain of Youth 11:11, whose auspicious offerings flow from repurposed cans of Monster Energy.

Tim Bruniges installs Normalize (the pull of the earth), a feedback sound work in which a composition plays on a 4-channel system in the corners of the room, while a microphone hangs directly in the center. As the mic receives various types of audio input from participants—singing, talking, clapping, yelling—the composition reacts in a different way. "Sometimes the audio itself is incorporated into the composition, sometimes the work hushes itself or builds into a climax. Or shimmers," says Ahearn.

Lucas Abela also invites public participation with his installation IV:BPM, a set of portable drum machines constructed of medical intravenous drip equipment pedals that are wired to audio gear. Attendees can change the tempo by playing with IV nozzles, move around the IV stands to alter the mix, and manipulate audio effects, creating an ever-changing orchestra of overlapping rhythms.

Lastly, Audra Wolowiec's Concrete Sound seems to want to contain all this noise, with a wall relief resembling the acoustic foam found in recording studios. However her modular series of sculptures is cast in concrete, rejecting its apparent function to present only a still, silent architectural grid.

Anxious Spaces is on view Saturdays and Sundays until July 26.


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New York
Performance Art
Prince Rama
Sound Art
Aurora Halal
group show
Knockdown Center
Lucas Abela
Anxious Spaces: Installation as Catalyst
Audra Wolowiec
Ben Mortimer
Molly Lowe
Tim Bruniges
Will Ryman