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When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out

Photo courtesy of Whitney Brown

April 23–July 19th, 2015, No Longer Empty, Old Bronx Court House, 878 Brook Ave, Bronx 10451 (at the intersection of East 161 St and Third Ave)

When you Cut into the present the future leaks out.
—William S. Burroughs

About the Exhibition
This is an exhibition and a series of commissioned site-related interventions and public programs for the heritage site of the Old Bronx Court House in the South Bronx, curated with the New York City based non-profit, No Longer Empty. See NLE’s link for a full schedule and list of partners.

What happens when a monumental building, made in another era, is sealed up in a different era, and is then unveiled forty years later? Like cracking open a time capsule, the formidable Old Bronx Borough Courthouse (or known as ‘The Grey Lady”) has stood witness to several diverse timelines, from the 19th Century all the way to its closing in the 1977’s, when the South Bronx was ‘burning’. Though the neoclassical shell remains a landmarked heritage site on the national register, the building’s original interior is mostly stripped of its functional value and charged with its now silent history of judicial trials, torture and punishment.

Ellen Harvey

Today, the building stands at a crossroads, literally, of a borough in the midst of a recognizable transition, with future aspirations of revitalization and greater cultural relevance within New York. The building is at once an historic relic and a beacon for future hope. No Longer Empty enters the building with this sensitivity to time and place, but most of all, with a mission to render transparent the layers of meaning embedded within this unique site.

Daniel Neumann and Juan Betancurth

The title of the show, a quote by Beat generation poet William S. Burroughs in reference to the process of cut-up poetry, alludes more to an approach to the site, rather than to a theme. The process of cutting, splicing, re-shuffling, re-wording, re-purposing attributes to not only the physical renovation of the building but also to the speculation of its future role. Other examples of the cut-up approach can also be attributed to early Hip-Hop, Spoken Word, and the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, who sliced into architecture and urban spaces as a sculptural practice with social commentary. These kinds of practices were often concerned with urban blight and imagining a way out.

(left to right) Xaviera Simmons, Onyedika Chuke, Lisa Sigal

Daniel Bozhkov, Melissa Calderon, Beth Campbell, Paco Cao, Onyedika Chuke, Abigail DeVille, Teresa Diehl, Elastic City (Todd Shalom), Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Ellen Harvey, Skowmon Hastanan, Adam Helms, Iman Issa, Paul Ramirez Jonas & Deborah Fisher, Lady K Fever, Michelle Lopez, Ivan Navarro, Daniel Neumann & Juan Betancurth, Shellyn Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Lisa Sigal,  Julianne Swartz, Xaviera Simmons, Valerie Tevere & Angel Nevarez

Abigail Deville
Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas (collaborated)
(left to right) Shellyne Rodrigues and Lisa Sigal
Teresa Diehl
David Scanavino
Old Bronx Court House