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Announcing Our New Temporary Home

By The Kitchen

Aug 19, 2022

PRESS RELEASE

THE KITCHEN TO ESTABLISH A TEMPORARY HOME AT WESTBETH IN FALL 2022 AS IT PREPARES TO COMMENCE RENOVATION OF ITS CHELSEA BUILDING

Read The New York Times announcement here

The Kitchen is thrilled to announce a generative meeting with another epicenter of the New York and international avant-garde, the world’s largest artist community: Westbeth Artists Housing (55 Bethune St, New York). As The Kitchen continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it begins the renovation of its Chelsea home on 19th Street and will move temporarily to Westbeth’s expansive West Side Loft, a space whose vast potential recalls The Kitchen’s own original locations at the Mercer Arts Center and later, the loft it occupied on the corner Wooster and Broome Streets. The Kitchen’s stay at Westbeth will begin with a soon-to-be-announced Fall 2022 season that treats the site as a flexible medium and transcends the containment of given platforms or disciplinary distinctions.

Executive Director and Chief Curator Legacy Russell said, “The Kitchen and Westbeth—and the artists who’ve passed through the doors of both—have been running alongside and in intersection with one another for decades. Now in active and deliberate intersection, this moment now opens up such exhilarating potential for this collaboration and for artists making work here. This is a space that pays homage to a different chapter of The Kitchen’s history, but also allows for us to reflect forward, asking rising artists of today to respond to the site itself as a creative material. In this next phase we will grow The Kitchen’s community and expand what the future of the avant-garde can be. We are so excited to see our refractive vision of experimentation take inspiration from the West Side Loft’s openness to go beyond walls, and between disciplines. ”

Westbeth Executive Director George Cominskie said, “As a fellow mission-driven nonprofit dedicated to giving a platform to emerging artists in the City, we are thrilled to have such a storied and iconic arts and cultural institution join us at Westbeth. The Kitchen has long been a pioneer in elevating artists across the cultural spectrum. Having them under our roof will open the door to exciting new creative opportunities and deepen Westbeth’s tradition as a home to the arts. We look forward to welcoming The Kitchen not only to a great space for creative output, but also to the diverse community of artists living and working at Westbeth.”

Enabled by a five-year capital campaign, The Kitchen’s renovation project at its storied 19th Street home will be designed by Rice+Lipka Architects (New York) and provides an opportunity for the organization to continue to expand its understanding and vision of experimentation and what it means to foster the next generation of the avant-garde. Construction will begin this fall.

The plans to modernize The Kitchen’s Chelsea facility and redesign its interior, while preserving the historic industrial character of its building, will help the organization serve artists and audiences by increasing accessibility and enhancing the space’s infrastructure. Once complete, the project will secure the non-profit organization’s future for decades to come as a durable institution with a durational program model where artists across disciplines can experiment freely and engage audiences in a direct way. At the same time, the project reaffirms The Kitchen’s ongoing investment in the Chelsea community and neighborhood, where the organization arrived in 1985 as one of the area’s very first arts organizations; and where it has remained even in the face of challenges posed by the area’s radical transformation and commercial development during the past decade.

Bringing artists into every facet of the organization’s next steps is fundamental to its ongoing mission. With this in mind, The Kitchen has hired the innovative and interdisciplinary emerging designer Rachael Elliott with architect Jeanie Fan to vision Westbeth’s West Side Loft space for The Kitchen’s staff and creative program and is working with ascendant design duo Pacific (Elizabeth Karp-Evans and Adam Turnbull) on an expanded relaunch of The Kitchen’s website that will prioritize The Kitchen as a site of wildness and broadcast, collapsing the boundary between the organization’s digital and in-person presences.

The Kitchen will commence its fall season beginning in September 2022, a transition that will be welcomed with a closing dance party in its empty Chelsea building at the start of the season (details to be announced). In anticipating The Kitchen’s move to a home-away-from-home, The Kitchen sought to find a space that might speak to the organization’s history, one which recalled a former Kitchen, in a nascent moment of its institutional pathway. The West Side Loft, an historic 6,000-foot-space located on the fourth floor located in the heart of the landmarked Westbeth Artist Housing complex, represented the ideal opportunity.

Since The Kitchen was founded by video artists Steina and Woody Vasulka fifty years ago, it has strived to create a boundless home for artists whose work dissolves boundaries upheld in conventional performing and visual arts spaces. The Kitchen became a place for artists whose groundbreaking work demands an alternative institutional context whose very shape can answer directly to the desires and needs of an emerging artistic community. In its early years, The Kitchen solidified its reputation as a place renowned for its firsts in art, music, and performance. To name just a few early examples: one of the first concerts by Talking Heads in 1975; the first performance of music from Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach in 1976; Robert Mapplethorpe’s first solo institutional exhibition, titled Pictures, in 1977; Sherrie Levine’s first solo exhibition in New York City and the legendary downtown concert series New Music, New York in 1979; the first presentation of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, Julius Eastman’s landmark Crazy N****r, and Laurie Anderson’s United States Part II in 1980; the pivotal exhibition Pictures and Promises organized by Barbara Kruger in 1981; Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane’s Four Dances, featuring a collaboration with Keith Haring, in 1982; Nam June Paik’s Good Morning, Mr. Orwell and Adrian Piper’s Funk Lessons in 1984; Greg Tate’s play My Darling Gremlin in 1995, and his contributions as a co-founder of The Black Rock Coalition, which presented concerts at The Kitchen in 1986 (The Apartheid Concert) and 1990 (The Black Rock Coalition Versus The Blaxploitation Songbook); Kerry James Marshall’s video and live performance work Doppler Incident in 1997; among so many other key moments for artists and for New York’s cultural landscape.

As a center for the arts, Westbeth commercial spaces have long been a draw for the City’s major cultural organizations, including The New School for Drama, the LAByrinth Theater Company and the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. Westbeth also has its own gallery, the Westbeth Art Gallery, which exhibits the work of both resident and non-resident artists.

For more information, please contact Blake Zidell at Blake Zidell & Associates: 917.572.2493 or blake@blakezidell.com.

Images: 1) Ben Tatti, Electronic Imagery, Colorized in Real Time, 1972. Installation view, The Kitchen in the Mercer Arts Center, 240 Mercer Street. Photograph by Ben Tatti. 2) Black and white photo of The Kitchen on 59 Wooster St, 1975. Photo by Kathy Landman. 3) Westbeth Artist Loft on 163 Bank Street, 2022. Courtesy of The Kitchen.

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