Brooklyn Army Terminal to host “When Artists Enter the Factories” exhibition

SUNSET PARK — Brooklyn Army Terminal has turned to the arts, while also drawing on its long, rich history.

On Friday, Oct. 18, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will celebrate the opening of a contemporary art exhibition at BAT, 140 58th Street, called “When Artists Enter the Factories,” that will run until Friday, Nov. 22. It will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in October and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in November.

“When Artists Enter the Factories” is inspired by the manufacturing scene in Sunset Park area and a large-scale exhibition, Terminal New York, held at the same location in 1983. 

Sixteen artists will showcase their talents at the waterfront campus. In addition, during the event, attendees can enjoy a range of material and conceptual actions led by artists based here in Brooklyn as well as in other parts of the world.

It’s all part of BAT’s ongoing commitment to give back to the community, said NYCEDC Executive Director for Sunset Park Julie Stein.

“The Brooklyn Army Terminal is New York City’s premiere hub for modern manufacturing  and we are an affordable and innovative place for companies to start and grow,” Stein told Brooklyn Reporter. “At the same time, we’re a community-driven asset that hosts special events and programming for the public to enjoy so we are really excited to be able to sponsor and host these artists in this major event.”

She also discussed the history behind the show.

“Terminal New York in 1983 was a major moment in the rebirth of this campus for industrial and modern manufacturing so 36 years later, to be able to do an homage to that important moment is really cool for us,” Stein explained.

According to the exhibition’s curator Jia-Jen Lin and curatorial advisor Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, the selection of the 16 artists was driven by their artistic commitment to material and their interest in engaging with the theme and process of manufacturing.

“The artworks in the ‘When Artists Enter the Factories’ exhibition reflect on the relationship between manufacturing and art-making,” Lin and Mopidevi wrote in a statement to this paper. “They adopt a range of industrially-produced materials and processes to make site-specific installations in the dynamic site of the Brooklyn Army Terminal. From columns in the lobby to the train tracks in the atrium area, artists have responded to the unique architectural diversity of the building. Together, they created artistic actions that invite viewers to different kinds of material and conceptual explorations.”

“The curator actually is a resident artist at the Brooklyn Army Terminal right now,” Stein said. “We did a public call for artists and the art exhibit itself will feature a number of our residents. There are also artists that use materials from our tenants in their work and have worked with our MakerSpace NYC as part of on-site fabrication of their artworks.”

Lin and Mopidevi discussed how this art exhibition differs from others in the city.

“The most critical distinction,” they said, is its commitment “to explore the segregated yet inseparable relationship between manufacturing and art-making right at the most innovate manufacturing complex in New York City.

“Through creating direct interactions between the artists and workers, we hope to bridge the sectors and bring contemporary art closer to the general public,” they added. “It is unique to bring such a diversity of artistic processes into a site that is conventionally not an exhibition space.”

Among the highlights, according to the pair, is a massive site-specific installation “In Between Here Flows” by Pittsburgh-based artist Oreen Cohen which features hand-bent steel rebars and multi-color theater gels on train tracks fabricated on site.

“For her, it has been an exciting and challenging journey to get accustomed to the intricacies of the site and embrace its full potential,” they said. “What came out of this conversation is a fascinating installation that visually tracks the movement of bird wings during take-off and landing.”

“Talent Within Us” by Manuel Molina Martagon, who invited workers and tenants at BAT to submit drawings and photos, is another exhibit that can be seen during the event.

“My idea is to bring the dispersed artistic passions and hobbies of the BAT community,” Martagon said. “We received a fantastic set of entries, which will be displayed as an installation in the exhibition, and a selection of them will be presented as postcards to take away. In this way, it has been special for many artists to engage with the place and the community at BAT.”

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