What is on the minds of young artists and curators today? According to the debut exhibition of a new gallery space in Tribeca, the answer won't exactly surprise you: parties in Brooklyn, the Internet, and, of course, the artists and curators themselves. Youth is at the heart of TEMP, a 4,500-square-foot gallery space opening on September 8 under the auspices of freshly-minted New York University graduates Alex Ahn and Ari Lipkis, both 23. “The idea is to be almost like a tech start-up, and be an incubator for young artists and curators,” Ahn told ARTINFO.
The pair, who invited such august art world figures as Philippe de Montebello and Simon de Pury to NYU as co-presidents of the school’s Fine Arts Society, got their real world start thanks to a stroke of real estate luck — and a well-placed connection. One of Ahn’s family friends owns a warehouse building in Tribeca that was between occupants. (It had previously served as the headquarters of a messenger service.) “He seemed happy to have it be used for the arts,” said Ahn. They’re footing all the other bills themselves.
Ahn and Lipkis are hoping that the ample space — and their youth — will attract curious visitors. It’s a tough task in a neighborhood that includes Artists Space’s new Books & Talks satellite, expansive collective Independent Curators International, and punchy nonprofit Art in General. Still, with its 15 foot-tall walls, their space is larger than most galleries outside Chelsea. TEMP’s first exhibition, “Working on It,” includes installations that stretch 10 and 12 feet across. “There are very few opportunities for people in their 20s to show in Manhattan,” noted Ahn.
“New York always needs new blood, new ideas, and new conceptions of what advanced contemporary art can generate,” said Dr. Julia Robinson, an assistant professor at NYU who taught both Ahn and Lipkis. “They have a bit to learn but I think they will do something smart there, after a couple of months breaking in.”
TEMP’s first exhibition — which includes work by Baltimore-based painter Laura Hudson and the New York-based Maggie Lee, Dean Levin, and Sandy Kim — will be one of the few curated by the founding pair, who will turn over the space to guest curators in the coming months. The inaugural show features a number of works that deal in some way with anxiety and the Internet. A triptych from New York-based Jack Greer is entitled “Scrolling down another page / Waiting for the video to load / Laying in bed”; artist EunSun Choi will sit in the space for the duration of the exhibition, hiding herself behind a newspaper bearing her own image (a low-fi reenactment of our everyday interactions via social media). All the artworks are under $10,000.
After “Working on It” closes on October 14, the duo will invite Portuguese curator Joao Simoes, who recently co-organized the Portuguese pavilion at the Venice architecture Biennale, to curate an exhibition of young artists. After that, they’ll collaborate with neighbor Independent Curators International to invite curators from Hong Kong, Dakar, Lithuania, and Madrid to put together an exhibition using archival material from one of their home art institutions.
Despite all the opportunities that come from having a brick-and-mortar space, there is a downside. The pair has planned programs and exhibitions well into the fall, but they are at the whim of the building’s generous owner. “We’ve called it TEMP because we don’t know how long we’ll have the space,” said Lipkis.
TEMP's inaugural exhibition, “Working on It,” opens at 57 Walker Street on September 8 and continues through October 14.