May 22, 2017 | By Carla Buzasi
A new art pop-up has hit Brooklyn, New York this week and is running through the weekend as part of Art Slope Multi Art Festival: Curated by Girl on Girl, a female art collective with chapters in New York, Syracuse, and Los Angeles.
Not for Sale is a baby pink newsstand that has popped up at Grand Army Plaza, near the main entrance of Prospect Park.
However, this isn’t your typical New York newsstand. Instead of newspapers, candy bars and gossip magazines, you’ll find artwork, zines, patches and postcards by over a hundred female identifying artists. Blurring the lines between “consumer” and “product,” the installation was hand built by its female members who are focused on building a supportive community that allows for collaboration and growth across mediums.
Starting as an online platform in 2012, Girl on Girl was founded by three female artists studying at Syracuse University who wanted to create opportunities to meet and work with “other like-minded female artists on campus.” In 2014, the platform became an off-line network, with bi-annual art exhibitions and projects meant to fill a void in the local art community. After its initial founders graduated and moved onto cities across the US, the collective decided to open chapters in Los Angeles and New York, while continuing to pass down the torch to the next generation of girls at Syracuse.
Not for Sale is its New York chapter’s first exhibition, a large undertaking for the collective who worked tirelessly to find, collect, and display artwork by international female creatives in place of “conventional, highly impersonal, mass-produced objects.” All week, its members are working at the stand as shop attendants, where they are dressed in all white uniforms and engaging with customers who, “in order to take home an object, must engage in conversation with an attendant to find out more about the object and its creator.”
In this newsstand, a conversation acts as a form of currency: Girl on Girl member Kati Rehbeck says, “A system of supply and demand is replaced with one of intimacy and consent.” While some of the artists donated their work to the newsstand, the collective asked its contributors for specific instructions on how the public should interact with the artwork in order to take it home. Girl on Girl co-founder Olivia Alonso Gough says, “Some artists simply said that anyone interested in the work could take it, while others got very specific.” I happened to visit the newsstand as two females were looking to buy artwork by my friend, LA-based artist Jillian Evelyn. When asked what the rules were for acquiring her illustrations, she proclaimed, “They can just steal it!”
Other artists include: Yuyi John, an internet artist with over 29k Instagram followers, who told the collective that only people with over 3,000 followers are allowed to take her temporary tattoos. Those who do must post a picture of themselves wearing the tattoos on their face and tag her. There’s also artist Liza Philosof who, after recently quitting smoking, created bubblegum cigarettes called, “Lucky to be Alive.” In order to take one of her re-imagined packs of cigarettes, customers must trade in a pack of real cigarettes. And then there’s a hand-embroidered Thank You for Shopping With Us shopping bag created by Eri King, a New York artist who transforms commercial products into fine artworks (think needleworked Cheetos and Takis bags). Although her work is not for sale, viewers are permitted to touch and handle the piece with care.
Popping up just weeks after Refinery29’s large-scale immersive experience, 29 rooms, I found this installation to be incredibly authentic, inventive, and simply put, fun. Moreover, the participatory installation fosters a new kind of shared economy, in which conversation and community is exchanged and valued over money. Companies like Refinery29 would be smart to take a page from Girl on Girl Collective’s book, and add an element to their immersive experience, which embraces a new kind of transaction of goods that is more participatory.
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