Art of Texting

Brooklyn Museum will activate its public spaces with a year of text-based installations

Art City Terrain East
Brooklyn Museum entry pavilion and plaza (Courtesy Ennead Architects)

Beginning in September, the Brooklyn Museum will bring four site-specific installations to its indoor and outdoor public spaces. The installations, which will include existing and new works, are part of Something to Say, a year-long exhibition that will highlight the museum’s role in civic conversation through text-based works installed in its entry pavilion, plaza, and lobby, all of which were designed by Ennead Architects. The exhibition is curated by Sharon Matt Atkins, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, and Carmen Hermo, associate curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.

The four selected artists are all Brooklyn-based and include Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Hank Willis Thomas, and Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine (BHAM), a Crown Heights–based collaborative art project of Mildred Beltre and Oasa DuVerney. All four grapple with text and language in their work. BHAM’s woven text work, DO NOT DISAPPEAR INTO SILENCE, will take over the facade of the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion, reflecting the duo’s concerns about gentrification and the role of artists to speak about and with silenced communities. Deborah Kass’s giant, eight-foot-tall OY/YO sculpture, which was most recently displayed on the North Fifth Street pier in Williamsburg, will be installed on the museum’s plaza and reflects a polyglot sensibility (in Spanish or Yiddish, depending on how the sculpture is read) that the artist believes is an urgent intervention at this fractured political moment.

Photo of art

DO NOT DISAPPEAR INTO SILENCE (Courtesy Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine)

Rasheed’s two-part installation will include a series of questions installed on the interior brick arcade that are meant to spur conversation, while her outdoor text-based work will be installed on the steps and invite visitors to reflect on location, time, and direction. Her work will also be accompanied by a programming collaboration with the nearby Brooklyn Public Library, where she will have a solo exhibition in 2019, in the form of a public reading group. The artist is currently engaged in an exhibition at the New Museum alongside The Black School that offers a learning space and library inspired by the community organizing of the Black Panthers and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Finally, Thomas, who founded an artist-led “super PAC” currently leading a massive public art project encouraging voter participation via artist billboards in all 50 U.S. states, will bring something a little less monumental to the show. His nearly seven-foot-tall neon work, Love Rules, will hang above the museum’s front desk and flash variations of the words in the work, from “Love Over Rules” to “Love Overrules,” based on a phrase that was among his cousin’s last recordings before he was killed in 2000.

The Brooklyn Museum is located near four Brooklyn neighborhoods: Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Park Slope, and its recent programming has been steadily oriented toward bringing more diverse museum-goers and local community members into the museum. For this show, the museum will kick off with a public event on October 6 at 11 a.m. that is open to the general public. The show is on view until June 30, 2019.

Something to Say
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
Through June 30, 2019

Related Stories