Amant art campus East Williamsburg, Brooklyn Building, NYC Architecture Photos, New York City
Amant art campus, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
May 7, 2021
SO – IL Designed ‘Art Campus’ Amant in Brooklyn Opens This Summer with Solo Exhibition by Grada Kilomba
Interdisciplinary, Research-based Artist Residency Begins This Fall
Amant art campus in Brooklyn, New York
BROOKLYN, NY – May 2021 — The Amant Foundation is pleased to announce that on June 5th it will open the doors on Amant, a 21,000 square foot multi-building “art campus” in East Williamsburg, designed by the award-winning architecture firm SO–IL. The complex will serve as Amant’s new headquarters, as well as the home for its exhibitions, public events, archival projects, performances, and residency program. Conceived as a research and process-oriented platform, Amant provides a public forum that presents and supports the practices of both established and under-recognized artists working across diverse creative fields.
Amant will open with a survey of work by Grada Kilomba (b.1968), the Portuguese artist, writer and academic of West African descent whose work deals with the difficult legacies of slavery and the colonial past. It will mark Kilomba’s first show in the United States.
The Amant Foundation made its debut with the launch of its Siena residency in the summer of 2020. The foundation is the vision of philanthropist and art collector Lonti Ebers, with the Brooklyn programs to be spearheaded by Artistic Director Ruth Estévez, former Gallery Director at REDCAT in Los Angeles and Senior Curator at Large at the Rose Art Museum. She is also the co-curator of the 34th São Paulo Bienal, which opens this fall.
The New York residency will welcome its first group of four artists in September and will host similarly sized groups three times a year. While its summer residency in Siena is geared towards mid-career artists as a “working retreat,” the Brooklyn program is research-focused, facilitating cross-discipline collaborations between Amant’s residents.
“The idea behind Amant was to create studios and exhibition spaces that would encourage artistic research and experimentation, free of the time restrictions and financial and administrative confines that typically accompany art practices in New York,” said Ebers.
Amant’s program will focus on research-based projects that do not always neatly fit into pre-existing systems of artistic and cultural production. Forthcoming collaborations include a commission by Gala Porras-Kim exploring current practices in the restitution and repatriation of cultural objects, and a new work by New York-based filmmaker Manthia Diawara depicting a series of hypothetical conversations between Martinican poet Édouard Glissant and thinkers of the African diaspora, drawn from Diawara’s own archive.
“At a moment when New York is still reeling from the pandemic, Amant wants to stress the importance of human relations,” said Estévez. “We want to provide opportunities to seed long-term cohesion between artists and audiences, supporting a tissue of intellectual, creative and emotional togetherness.”
Most of Amant’s time-based programming will occur at Géza, a 1800-square foot multipurpose building on campus for performances and screenings. In the fall, as conditions permit, Géza will host a screening series featuring Grada Kilomba, Olivia Plender, Dora García, and Clara Ianni, whose cinematic works dissect and re-assemble history through found footage, news archives, and other epistolary documents and ephemera.
Grada Kilomba: Heroines, Birds and Monsters
June 3 – October 3
Amant’s gallery spaces will host three exhibitions in 2021. The first, on view from June 3 through October 3, is the first solo exhibition of Berlin-based artist Grada Kilomba in the United States, presenting her unique form of storytelling. Working with theory, performance, film, and literature, Kilomba reveals the narratives of the colonial past, giving space to the silenced voices whose traumas are ever present. In her own words: “What if history has not been told properly? What if our history is haunted by cyclical violence precisely because it has not been buried properly?”
Kilomba’s work is showcased across three of Amant’s buildings, transforming them into a theatre stage where characters, gestures, words, sounds and props unfold into a hybrid body, exchanging roles and staging a new dramaturgy that traverses geographies and temporalities.
In the exhibition’s centerpiece, A World of Illusions (2017-2019), Kilomba radically reinterprets three well-known Greek myths to expose the unresolved tragedies of the postcolonial condition. Drawing on her academic background in psychoanalysis, the artist dedicates Narcissus and Echo to the politics of invisibility and Oedipus the King to the politics of violence, while the tragedy of Antigone exposes the politics of erasure and the importance of ceremonial memory. Combining music, mime, and dance, she re-stages the fables through African traditions of oral storytelling —the Griot— and building on analogies to the modern patriarchal system through the inclusion of a postcolonial lens.
The trilogy reincarnates as a sequence of photographs with the shared title of Heroines, Birds and Monsters (2020), portraying the female protagonists in a sculptural pose. In The Desire Project (2016) the representational image disappears entirely, with text displayed as the only visual element, accompanied by musical rhythms substituting for the narrator’s voice. The concluding work, Table of Goods (2017), a sculpture born out of ritual-performance, presents as both an object and landscape of the whole exhibition. The trans-atlantic trade between Europe, America, and Africa—sugar, coffee, cacao–are interred in a pile of soil. Kilomba displays these extracted materials as a burial, a symbolic ritual of remembrance of the slave trade as historical trauma, of which the consequences on the psyche are yet to be thoroughly explored.
Heroines, Birds and Monsters applies a new poetic, theoretical, and political framework to the colonial past, and the ways by which these narratives continue to embed themselves.
“Retelling history anew and properly is a necessary ceremony, a political act. Otherwise, history becomes haunted. It repeats itself. It returns intrusively, as fragmented knowledge, interrupting and assaulting our present lives.” – Grada Kilomba
Amant’s home in New York is a research and artistic platform spread across four different buildings in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 315 Maujer Street, 306 Maujer Street, and 932 Grand Street, with construction projected to conclude in May 2021. Flexibility is of deep pragmatic and conceptual importance for Amant, which, due to its interdisciplinary program, requires its premises to fulfill multiple purposes.
“With the design of the Amant campus we introduce a more humane grain and texture to the industrial neighborhood,” said SO–IL. “Both robust and intimate, we believe the complex of buildings will offer an oasis for creative thought and production, as well as an inviting and intriguing environment for visitors.”
Designed by architectural firm SO–IL as an “art campus,” the new space includes exhibition galleries, a bookstore, a courtyard garden and a multifunctional space dedicated to moving images and live art. The overall complex allows for an internal networking of activities while connecting, spatially, with the dynamics of the surrounding neighborhood. SO–IL’s design is both a new landmark and a seamless addition to East Williamsburg. Their intimate reinterpretations of materials like concrete, brick, and steel were conceived with Amant’s industrial surroundings in mind.
The main entrance is located in the center of the complex at 315 Maujer Street, which houses Amant’s offices and a daylit, 22 ft. tall gallery space. Across the courtyard at 932 Grand Street, what was once a marble shop has been converted into a vast second gallery space spanning over 2,000 square feet, in addition to a cafe and bookstore.
To the south at 306 Maujer is a dedicated studio building for residents featuring a large communal meeting area, library, and dining space, encouraging social exchange. Four daylit studios occupy the floor above. Walkways at the east and west perimeter lead to a second concrete volume housing Géza, a 1,800 square foot multipurpose space for performances and screenings.
In September, Amant’s Brooklyn campus will welcome its inaugural group of national and international residents. The four artists will come from a wide range of artistic fields and reflect Amant’s commitment to geographic diversity. Residencies take place three times a year and form the heart of Amant. The New York residency is open to artists at all stages of their careers, with the sole restriction that residents may not already live in New York.
With a focus on research, rather than production and fabrication, residents will enrich their creative practices by observing, absorbing, and listening to the many perspectives, lived experiences, places, and communities that New York has to offer. More specifically, the residency will foster an active dialogue between local art and academic institutions, art professionals, and cultural producers. Additionally, the Amant residency will emphasize engagement with informal centers of knowledge often overlooked by the art historical canon or wider historical record.
The selection process prioritizes artists who require resources for long-term research and archival work, in line with Amant’s ethos of supporting thoughtful, experimental practices that “slow down” and ease the time pressures of the art production process.
In addition to individual studio space at 306 Maujer, each resident will receive a $3,000 monthly stipend, and Amant will cover the cost of transportation to and from New York.
About Ruth Estévez
Ruth Estévez is a curator and stage designer. She is the co-curator of the 34th São Paulo Biennial, which opens in September 2021. From 2018 to 2020 she was Senior Curator-at-large at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts and curator of Idiorhythmias, the performance program at MACBA in Barcelona. She was Redcat Gallery Director in Los Angeles and Chief Curator at the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City, where she also founded LIGA, Space for architecture (2010-), a non-for-profit platform focused on spatial practices.
About Lonti Ebers
Lonti Ebers is a long-time art collector and supporter of contemporary art. Lonti hired the renowned architectural firm SO–IL to design Amant’s innovative performance and art complex. Lonti has served on the boards of several museums in both the US and abroad and is currently a trustee of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), serves on the board of the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in Upstate New York, and sits on the European Committee of the Tate Gallery in London.
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