Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Will Boris Rasin and Kenny Komer do a 3rd term for Art In Odd Places? We hope so

The deadline for this year's Art in Odd Places artist proposal submission is this Friday (May 14, 2010). I hope everyone is gearing up in putting the finishing touches on their applications.

For those who are still working on their proposals, allow this blog to give you inspiration as it features another Art in Odd Places veteran.

Kenny Komer (left) and Boris Rasin (right)

For this entry, we are going back to the basics of why Art in Odd Places exists: to provide a non traditional way of viewing art. There are no other artists who express the same sentiment more than the duo Boris Rasin and Kenny Komer, Art in Odd Places artists for 2008 and 2009. The collaborative work they create is very far from traditional, and they have no plans of coming near the term anytime soon. You may have seen the "Monty Burns for Mayor" posters last year, which was their brainchild. Their work poses the question: Should the space inspire art or is it the other way around? As we approach this year's festival, the artists selected will take a CHANCE and attempt to answer this question. Perhaps it goes both ways? Either way, having art displayed along 14th continues to captivate people's attention. These two know a thing or two about getting your attention.

Although they work in tandem, Boris will be speaking on behalf of their work.

AIOP: Tell us about Boris ?
BR: I am a Ukrainian-born, NYC-raised artist. I've been making art as long as I can remember. I graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts and then from the Cooper Union School of Art. I have been making site-specific sculpture and installation in collaboration with Kenny Komer since our days at Cooper Union.

AIOP:How was your Art in Odd Places experience?
BR: My experience with AiOP has been terrific. I really love the concept behind the festival and I think it dove-tails perfectly with my interests of bringing art to a wider audience than just those who actively seek out art. Kenny Komer and I have worked with AiOP for the last two years.

The first project we did for AiOP 2008: Pedestrian was Project Midas. This project involved us looking peripheral architectural elements along the full stretch of 14th Street that have become obsolete and abandoned by the city, and bringing attention to them by covering those objects in bright metallic paint. We painted fire-call boxes, art deco subway vents, and odd pipes that seem to randomly come out of buildings.

For AiOP 2009: Sign, we created a multi-media satirical political campaign to challenge Michael Bloomberg's run for a third term as mayor. Our candidate was the Simpsons character Monty Burns, Bloomberg's fictionalized evil twin parallel. We made a website (burnsformayor.com), created propaganda videos, issued press releases and plastered the city with campaign posters and stickers. We also set up a "campaign office" in Union Square in the form of a fold-out table with American flags and campaign literature, and drove a campaign van around ABC studios during one of the televised election debates, from which we broadcast our message straight to the people. This was a very special project. It beat all our expectations by becoming one of those paragraph-long news stories that went viral and found itself in national and international press. The campaign was covered (briefly) by CNN, NY Times, NBC, Crains, Forbes, Huffington Post, Daily News, and others. After all was said and done, Monty Burns gathered 27 write-in votes, crushing the dismally low write-ins for incumbent Michael Bloomberg and main challenger Bill Thompson.

AiOP's director Ed Woodham, and curator Radhika Subramaniam were the perfect combination of supportive and hands-off, keeping up with our progress and helping us out with whatever support they could offer, while letting us do our thing.

AIOP: Walk us through your thought process in creating your piece for Art in Odd Places.
BR: For me personally, the most interesting part of AiOP is that it aims to introduce art into the public space, skirting traditional protocol. This approach inevitably depends on a level of subversion, where the artist does not ask the city for permission to create his or her artwork. The act of re-appropriating public space without official authorization has been a major part of my thought process when proposing ideas to AiOP. Another factor I always consider is that the artwork inhabits the shared space of all the city's inhabitants. It is not there for an art-saavy public, but for the general population, and that the artwork is placed in a situation where it is not expected. This leaves open the possibility of creating a hybrid experience that can exist somewhere in between art and real life. For instance, the Monty Burns for Mayor campaign referenced the recent election of Barack Obama and the (at-the-time) current election of Michael Bloomberg, incorporating the unsanctioned practice of wild-posting advertisements and stepping into the real political dialogue about the current and future state of the city.
Kenny and Boris during the Festival opening

AIOP:Any words of wisdom for artists who are interested in becoming part of this year's Art in Odd places festival?
BR: I think art gives you superpowers. The process of making site-specific installations has forced me to speak to people I would have never approached, learn modes of production I would have never tried to learn, and take chances I would have never thought I could take. When I know what I want to create, I stop at almost nothing to see that it gets done. This is the most exciting part about being an artist for me. In a way I feel bigger as an artist than I do as a person.

Also, I would recommend that people not underestimate how much others appreciate art. I have found that if you are passionate about and devoted to a project, others will pick up on your energy and try to help you realize your dream. Officials let you off with a warning when you do something illegal, friends give you free labour, and your efforts are respected, whether or not people understand what it is that you might be doing.

AIOP: What projects are you currently working on and where can people reach you?
BR: In collaboration with fellow artist Scott Goodman, Kenny Komer and I have just completed a visual art component to an Earth Day music festival hosted by NYU and the environmental organization Solar One. We built "Happy Bearthday" party-themed props for the audience and performers to interact with. Andrew W.K. smashed open an Earth-shaped pinata filled with crap from 99 cent stores, and the LA based band Health had two of their friends jump out of a big birthday cake butt-naked. It was a lot of fun!

Also, I've also been working on somepaintings at home which are influenced by Masonic symbolism andBatman
You can reach me by email: boris.rasin@gmail.com

AIOP:Where was your work during the festival?
BR: In both AiOP festivals which we were part of, we planted our pieces in various places along 14th Street. I really like the idea of spreading a project over a large area. The distance between Avenue C and the Hudson offers an opportunity to reach very different populations and lets the artwork interact with a huge number of people.

AIOP: Any final words?
BR: AiOP, keep growing!

Thanks Boris! Art in Odd Places wouldn't mind if you and Kenny decided to run for a third term for our festival.

You can get more information about this duo by visiting http://ronkom.com/

Now finish your Call for Artists application. Best of luck to everyone!

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