With Brooklyn a byword for artist studios and emerging artists, the Brooklyn Museum is uniquely positioned to introduce visitors to the latest work coming out of the borough, alongside a collection spanning Egyptian antiquities to American and contemporary art. In a return to the spirit of past initiatives like the Working in Brooklyn exhibitions and 2004’s two-hundred-artist Open House, the Brooklyn Museum’s Raw/Cooked is a year-long series of five solo shows by emerging artists.
Established Brooklynites Ron Gorchov, Michael Joo, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Amy Sillman, and Mickalene Thomas recommended unrepresented local artists who have not yet participated in a major museum exhibition, and Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai made the final selections. As it turns out, the selected artists have taken the opportunity to place sculptures in vitrines with Egyptian antiquities, hang paintings at the entrance to the Renaissance galleries, and moon (in sculpture) a bust from the permanent collection.
For the third installment of Raw/Cooked, opening January 27, Red Hook-based artist Shura Chernozatonskaya responds to the museum’s architecture with site-specific paintings. In the Museum’s Rubin Lobby, Chernozatonskaya will install thirty-three canvases as one large-scale work, its traffic light imagery asking visitors whether they will be receptive to what they see in the museum—as the artist explained to The L Magazine, “Are you going to accept something, or are you going to reject it?” The rhythm of the installation derives from music, alternating between two squares and three circles. In the Beaux-Arts Court, Chernozatonskaya hangs diptychs based on the themes of the four European galleries: paintings of a man and a woman flank “Tracing the figure”; contemplative compositions titled “Art” and “Devotion” accompany the Renaissance religious paintings; a diptych of abstract aqueous and dry landscapes introduces “Painting Land and Sea”; and the “Russian Modern” diptych, the least literal, evokes vast, bleak, and melancholy associations.
So far, the Raw/Cooked artists have all taken the Brooklyn Museum’s architecture and collection as a starting point, making the exhibitions feel more like collaborations between museum and artist than traditional solo shows. Kristof Wickman, recommended by Ramírez Jonas, placed his casts of everyday objects and the human body in play with pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, such as a Rodin sculpture and a Zuni Pueblo chair (resting atop two casts of squished jelly doughnuts). One sculpture, a butt adorned with candy-colored sprinkles, mooned a 1925 bust of an adolescent boy by Emile Robert Zettler.
Bushwick-based artist Lan Tuazon played with the conventions of the museum as an institution, drawing on the spirit of Marcel Broodthaers. Tuazon built a site-specific monument from empty display vitrines, rearranged pieces from the museum’s collection into thematic groupings, and in the galleries of Egyptian art, displayed her reinterpretations of the artifacts in the same cases as the Egyptian originals.
The year of Raw/Cooked exhibitions will finish with Heather Hart and Ulrike Müller. Bedford-Stuyvesant–based Hart is dropping a rooftop, cleanly sundered from its house, onto the fifth-floor rotunda of the museum, where visitors will be able to interact with it. Müller’s work has a feminist, activist, and collaborative bent—her recent Herstory Inventory invited participants to create new images inspired by the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn. We’re looking forward to seeing how she’ll respond to the resources at the Brooklyn Museum, including its renowned Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
Shura Chernozatonskaya’s new exhibition, the third in the Brooklyn Museum’s Raw/Cooked series, opens January 27 and continues through April 8. The opening reception is January 26 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.