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On View: Drawn Together
January 22 - March 20Free
Part I: Introduction
This memo sets forth the objectives and strategies of “Drawn Together,” an exhibition that will facilitate the creation of updated organizational bylaws through the work of Anaïs Duplan, Maia Chao, and Yxta Maya Murray at Cuchifritos Gallery in January of 2021. “Drawn Together” was devised by the aforementioned artists as well as curators Mira Dayal and Simon Wu in response to Cuchifritos’ 2019 open call; Dayal and Wu proposed an exhibition that contemplated Cuchifritos’ relocation from the Lower East Side’s historic Essex Street Market building to the new gentrifying Essex Market complex. Cuchifritos has long engaged its mission with an awareness of its position among New York art spaces and local businesses, and has sought to support artwork that contributes to its distinct and overlapping communities. “Drawn Together” will continue in this tradition. Through conversations with the gallery’s immediate and wider community of those who work for, with, and around Cuchifritos—a selection of whom will hereafter be referred to as “constituents”—the project will propose amendments to the organization’s bylaws, which govern the contractual agreements made within the gallery program, in ways that reflect the community’s needs and understandings of the gallery’s role.
Through the project, the aforementioned artists will facilitate a series of virtual dialogues/storytelling circles with constituents of Cuchifritos about their understanding of contracts generally and specifically in relation to Cuchifritos. Through a video piece that will be presented in the gallery and employed as a facilitation tool during the dialogues, Murray, Duplan, and Chao will insist on physical connections and properties alluded to in the etymology of much contractual language. Within the video, common household objects (bandages, elastic bands) that carry the aforementioned material properties will be used as instructional props to evoke the embodied consequences of contractual situations.
The conversations with constituents and our collection of responses from gallery visitors will aim to elicit an understanding of what constituents desire and need from the contracts that they enter into with the gallery. The question is, do the community members and the emerging and unrepresented curators and artists with whom Cuchifritos does and might work perceive that the contracts they enter into with the gallery contribute to their human flourishing? And if not, what kinds of contracts and contractual processes would help fulfill that flourishing?
Once the artists and curators learn from constituents what changes would best elicit those social and human goods, they will translate them into a set of contractual terms under the primary counsel of Murray, who is also a law professor specialized in community constitutionalism and property law. The added terms will encourage the pursuit of the gallery’s mission in ways that are alert to and critical of capitalism and the many different types of displacement that can occur in this society—familial, economic, personal, and artistic. Artists Alliance, Inc.’s Board of Directors, which oversees the exhibition program at Cuchifritos Gallery along with staff, will then vote, under the protocols set forth by Article X of their bylaws, to amend Section VI of their bylaws, which articulate contractual rules to which the nonprofit will be bound. The amendments to Section VI would incorporate clauses to be included in all future exhibition contracts, and would be premised on the insights derived from the dialogues with constituents. Duplan, Chao, Dayal, Wu, and Murray understand that this process may either be successful or be unsuccessful. They believe that either outcome will be part of the process and objective of “Drawn Together”.