Jan 19, 2017
Describing The Kitchen’s very beginnings, founders Woody and Steina Vasulka once recalled how an informal gathering among like-minded individuals devoted to video quickly grew into a venue for artists of all stripes, working in music, dance, performance, literature, and art: “Basically, The Kitchen became a place for everybody who didn’t have a home.”
It’s something casually said, yet with incredible implications. Such a premise extends to the fundamental concept of nonprofit and alternative organizations as they came into being during the past half century: that there is a living need for institutions whose very existence is defined through our recognizing, accommodating, and sustaining the value of diversity and difference. And this idea continues to guide the organization today, both for the works we present and, as important, for the dialogues made possible here. From the start, The Kitchen—like so many other alternative spaces—has been responsible not only for creating art, but also for producing a public, offering a safe and open space for people, ideas, and critical exchange that might not otherwise be at home in larger society.
Smaller-scale and grassroots spaces correspond with much larger dynamics—and needs—in culture. To cite American historian Eric Foner, who recently took stock of global events leading to our current political moment: Something we’ve learned is “pinning one’s hopes on a single individual…is a recipe for disappointment.” By contrast, the greatest aspirations for society across the decades have been realized through collective engagement, which requires that we recognize the connective tissue among so many different peoples of different types working for common, if various, goals. As Foner writes, “Following different, even contradictory paths may well produce greater strength rather than fragmentation and weakness.”
Such has been the experience of The Kitchen for nearly 50 years. On January 20, The Kitchen building and gallery will be closed so that our staff can join dialogues with fellow institutions, colleagues, and artists. We hope you will join us.
Danspace Project --- Ruth Patir: I dream of the elections
The Whitney Museum of American Art --- Speak Out on Inauguration Day
The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics at The New School --- Dispatch Party
The Queens Museum --- Sign Making in Solidarity