Current Exhibition


This year, from September 2014 through July 2015, Proteus Gowanus will host a series of exhibitions, workshops and events organized around the theme of COMMERCE. Generally confined to the universe of buying and selling, the word may also refer more generally to communication and interaction among people. In reality, the system of value and demand, measured in various currencies, labor and in the exchange of goods and services is very much about social relations, desire, expectation and community. Throughout this year at Proteus Gowanus, we will consider these various meanings while specifically focusing, in four consecutive exhibitions of art, artifacts and books on: Currency (9/6/14-11/29/14), Labor (12/6/14-2/22/15), Trade Routes (2/28/15-5/2/15), and Gowanus Marketplace(5/9/15-6/28/15).

4. Gowanus Market Place

May 9 – June 28, 2015

The final exhibition of our yearlong exploration of COMMERCE is Gowanus Marketplace, exploring the intersection of contemporary artistry and industry along the Gowanus Canal as it heeds the growing importance of creatively-based Gowanus commerce. The exhibition, featuring the work of Gowanus-based artists, artisans, and makers, presents functional objects and items as objets d’art in a re-imagined Old World marketplace.

Participants include:
Amanda Moffat Pottery
Brooklyn Robot Foundry
Chris Hackett
Arlen Huang

Ehrhardt’s Tempest
Haskieville Apparel
Jake Wright // Stockpile Designs
Lite Brite Neon Studio
May Luk
Melissa Dadourian
Pete Raho // Gowanus Furniture Co.
Phuong  Nguyen
Pickle Shack // Brooklyn Brine
Sarah Kate Beaumont // Very Sweet Life
Soapwalla Inc.
Stone Street Coffee
Textile Arts Center // Emma Cleveland + Natalie Phillips
Tony Stanzione
Twig Terrariums

3. Trade Routes

February 28, 2015 – May 2, 2015

Trade Routes, the third exhibition of our COMMERCE year, is a compilation of art, artifacts and books that reference the movement of commerce around the globe. The interdisciplinary exhibition focuses on past and present infrastructures and pathways of commerce, from the winds and tides that were the first determinants of inter-cultural trade to the technological breakthroughs that drive global trade today. Sociologist-artist team David Schleifer and Tracy Gilman explore Navajo trading rug styles using weather-resistant electric cables. The works of Shari Mendelson and Venetia Dale address the impact of product innovation, specifically the invention of plastic, on the movement of objects and commodities from their countries of origin to their point of consumption. The slow but massive efficacy of international shipping is presented in Charlotte Lagarde’s video and collage. Paul Lloyd Sargent and Tony Stanzione show us the river-borne perspective of industrial flotsam. And in her two-month residency at Proteus throughout the Trade Routes exhibition, mobile vending activist Lauren Cannon will present her Institute for Mobile Research, including weekly onsite collaborative design workshops and presentations by activists and designers on the vending industry. These various works, along with accompanying public programming including lectures and film screenings, will highlight not only the movement and mapping  of trade routes, but also the resulting changes in styles, uses and meanings of commodities and their materials as they criss-cross the globe.

Trade Routes was curated by Tammy Pittman and Susie Silbert.

2: Labor

December 6, 2014 – February 22, 2015

In the second exhibition of the COMMERCE year, we explore Labor, its structures, sounds and relationships, particularly as they exist within our current economy. Once we worked simply to feed and house ourselves and our kin. Now many of us feel that our labor is not our own, that we work for the survival of systems we do not want or understand. Many struggle for independence, seeking work with meaning and striving to retain the fruits (however meager) of our labor.

Labor explores these conundrums in an exhibition of art, sound installations, artifacts and books considering questions of debt, invisible labor, minimum wage, manufacturing and the decline of industry. These investigations will be augmented with conversations and workshops on topics ranging from student debt to slavery to labors of love.

Participants include Phillip Chen, Meredith Degyansky, Blake Fall-Conroy, Alison Owen, Holly Pitre, William Tucci and Audra Wolowiec as well as framed prints from the embattled Detroit Institute of Art. Labor was curated by Tammy Pittman, Co-Creative Director, Proteus Gowanus.

TimeDebt Project-In-Residence: A three-month Project In Residence by Meredith Degyansky entitled TimeDebt will be a part of the exhibition and include regular workshops. Every Sunday from 3-6pm, TimeDebt will offer the public one-on-one consultations to help you sort through your questions of debt, labor, wage, and education. Services include:

Work Evaluations: Confused about the value of your labor? TimeDebt Services will evaluate your past work bringing to light all of the uncompensated and unrecognized transactions you’ve perform throughout your life.

Calculate Your Hours: TimeDebt Services will help you quantify how many hours of uncompensated and/or non-traditional labor you have already completed and how those hours could be used to pay off your debt.

Letters to Creditors: TimeDebt Services will help you write the perfect barter and/or timebank letter to your creditor offering alternatives to help you get rid of your debt.

Education Resources: TimeDebt Services will map alternative education models and resources in the city to help you learn what you want to learn without breaking the bank.

1: Currency

September 6 – November 30, 2014

The first exhibition of the COMMERCE year, Currency, will examine money as a representation of value and a socially accepted medium of exchange. Along with displays of alternative currencies, artist-made currencies and art objects made with currency as medium, there will also be workshops and activities designed to make money, to play with notions of value and worth and to consider the looking-glass world of artistic value.

The exhibition includes works by Honey Brown, Makale Faber-Cullen, Dadara, Hackett and Densmore, Rob Johnson, Hai Knafo, Poneros, Sal Randolph, Duke Riley, Jason Sinopoli, Swoon, Dan Tague, Mark Wagner and Caroline Woolard. Curated by Tammy Pittman with Courtney Jordan.

Currency will include several interactive installations:

MESS – On the Proteus shelves, an installation of objects is displayed as part of an exploration of the mental and psychological processes by which we ascribe value to things. Developed by artist and statistician Tatiana Istomina in conjunction with Proteus Gowanus, the Mercantile Evaluation Statistical System (MESS) takes into account not only the potential market values of objects, but the judgements of taste and the ethical standards of its users.

Currency will also a Money Happening instigated by artist Sal Randolph: Free Money is a plate of cash installed at Proteus Gowanus throughout the Currency exhibition. Anyone is free to take or add money as they choose.

The Coin Press – at the Currency opening and at intervals during the show, Bronwen Densmore and Hackett will operate their guillotine-like, six-foot tall Coin Press, conceived and assembled on the banks of the Gowanus using scavenged materials. The Coin Press drops a heavy weight on real coins of copper and brass, imprinting them with marginally meaningful designs.

Additional money-making workshops and related activities will take place throughout the exhibition.