DIY Art Spaces After the Crisis

The following in an excerpt from the Post 1612 interview with Adam TurlProject 1612 is an independent artist-run alternative space located in a garage in Peoria, Illinois. This excerpt discusses the importance of independent DIY artist run spaces--and the need to connect those with oppositional politics. You can read the full interview here.

Kick the Cat (Adam Turl) at Project 1612 in Peoria, Illinois.

First of all I want to say how grateful I am to everyone at Project 1612, and everyone who came to see my work. I also want to say alternative DIY spaces like Project 1612 offer a potential way forward for artists. In the 1970s it was possible to show up in New York City and get a job, make art, and participate in the art world. Gentrification has made that more or less impossible for artists from poor, working-class and even middle-class backgrounds. We have to make our own spaces and possibly our own art economy (in as much as that is possible). Chintia Kirana, an artist who also edits Expose Art Magazine, is planning to start a similar sort of space in Alabama. You have the Kitchen Space in Chicago. I am about to finish graduate school, and I am planning (once I know where I am going to be living and working) to help set up a similar project—inspired in large part by 1612. 

At the same time I don’t think we should make these sorts of spaces another version of the hermetically and hermeneutically sealed art world. We need a broader working-class audience—in part to reinvigorate our art. I think we should take a page from the punk rock houses (the informal music houses that started in the 1970s and 1980s). We should aim to form an organic connection with our communities—but one that is somewhat hostile to the status quo. Of course these spaces were often problematic—particularly around gender. This also raises questions about how we price our work, how we interact with “popular” concerns (paying the rent, police brutality, voter disenfranchisement, rising tuition costs, rape culture, etc.), collaborating with other kinds of local artists (musicians, writers, etc.), and developing connections with grassroots activists in our areas.

Adam Turl is an artist and writer currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. Turl is the co-organizer with Craig E. Ross of the Dollar Art House. He is an editor at Red Wedge Magazine and a recent MFA graduate from the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University. Turl was recently awarded a residency at the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris. He writes the "Evicted Art Blog" at Red Wedge. He is also a member of the November Network of Anti-Capitalist Studio Artists and his most recent exhibitions include "Thirteen Baristas" at the Brett Wesley Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada and "Kick the Cat" at Project 1612 in Peoria, Illinois.