Checking in at DUMBO Newcomer Usagi NY

by Michael Anthony Farley on August 21, 2015 DUMBO + Reviews + slideshow

Infinitive White/Mugen No Shiro
Derek Brahney, Sou Fujimto, Party NY, Andy Spade, and Richard Vivenzio
Usagi NY
163 Plymouth St
Brooklyn, NY
On view through September 8th

A new exhibition space, which bills itself as a “concept store”, opened last month in DUMBO. Usagi NY combines a gallery, cafe, and library in a crisp and surprisingly functional 2,800 sq ft space designed by Sou Fujimoto. The cafe and reading area are quietly tucked in the back, resulting in a gallery that isn’t too cluttered but still manages to feel more gregarious than the average white-box space. It’s a rare example of a multi-use space where the artwork doesn’t feel like an afterthought, which is an accomplishment. Their inaugural show is organized around the Japanese designer Kenya Hara’s theory that the color white inspires creativity—along with a unifying thread of projects that involve commerce, research, or technology.

Below are some highlights:


Party NY, “Story in Story,” 2015, Mixed Media (book, White-Out, projection, custom program).

“Story in Story” by the collaborative group Party NY is based around a computer algorithm that scans two works of literature to determine whether or not the same words appear in the same order. One strangely appropriate match, shown here, is Charles Bukowski’s poem “Cause and Effect” within The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Accompanying a projection of the program at work, a physical copy of the novel is displayed with all the “extraneous” words manually redacted with White-Out, leaving only the Bukowski text revealed throughout its pages. Story in Story Book

Also from Party NY, an Occulus Rift virtual reality headset bombarded viewers with vertigo-inducing imagery. It was weirdly disconcerting—the moving abstractions were close enough to architectural space to be somewhat believable but it was impossible to find one’s footing in the field of spinning cubes. To ameliorate the queasy feeling, Party NY also designed “Virmo”—a tongue-in-cheek product featuring ginger to calm one’s stomach after spending too much time in VR space.


Andy Spade The Imperfect Shirt

Andy Spade, “The Imperfect Shirt (long hem)” edition 2/3 and “The Imperfect Shirt (wrong sleeve)” edition 3/3, both 2015.

Adding to the space’s absurdist-department-store vibe, Andy Spade created a series of three limited-edition variations of the white Oxford shirt. Here, the ubiquitous uniform of the male workforce was tweaked with “flaws” ranging from uneven hems to upside-down pockets.

Derek Brahney

Derek Brahney, “CAPTCHA: levelers/ critics,” 2014, pencil on paper.

Much like “Story in a Story”, Derek Brahney’s CAPTCHA series offers a hard-copy of accidental poetry sourced from technology. Brahney collects the randomly-generated security tests and meticulously transfers them to paper with delicate pencil work. The serendipitous content ranges from “elegant discussions” to “endowed groups,” which is suggestively hung at crotch-level.

Derek Brahney, "CAPTCHA: endowed groups," 2014, pencil on paper.

Derek Brahney, “CAPTCHA: endowed groups,” 2014, pencil on paper.

But the highlight of my trip to Usagi NY had to be seeing “Disco Dog”, the programmable light-up LED vest for tiny dogs. It didn’t seem like it was actually part of the exhibition, so the flashing “lost dog” text was especially appropriate. I wrote about this a few months ago, but this was my first time seeing it in the flesh (only 45 of these were produced).


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: