What's an artist to do when the world has changed?
We decided to curate an art show in the middle of a pandemic to demonstrate that NY isn’t dead, that art is relevant, and that human connection is everything.
“Phase IV” references NY's phased approach to reopening and represents art created during the Covid-19 pandemic - and a new phase in each of our creative practices.
On Sunday, December 6, 2020, we debuted our most recent works at historic underground space Gymnopedie in Bushwick, Brooklyn. People came out of their homes and out of their comfort zones to share a moment with us.
This online extension of the show is our hope to connect with more of you - wherever you are in these challenging times. Get a glimpse of the opening event, browse our art, learn about us as artists and collaborators, and grab your piece of Phase IV on the way out.
Austance Caroline, Conrad Clifton and Lea Wülferth
Phase IV: Playlist
Listen to our Phase IV playlist curated by Conrad Clifton while you enjoy the exhibition. It's the perfect soundtrack to accompany forward thinking artwork.
Phase IV installation (2020)
Comments from the artist
I want to manipulate space and have people come into a space and feel something they haven't felt. I want to make people feel inspired and wonder and question. There is no such thing as good art or bad art. There is no such thing as right or wrong. Art is just creating something that hasn't existed before.
Being creative, that's like breathing, that’s what we know how to do. We can pull from our past experiences for the next lifetime and have plenty of things to make.
Austance Caroline is a creator of art, fashion and fuckery who loves playing with the High Low Aesthetic and confounding your expectations. 'Vulgarity is a part of my everyday' is not just her ideology for her own life, but also the mantra behind her work. Following a group exhibition at YouTooCanWoo Gallery she hosted her first solo exhibition in Manhattan in December 2019. She is currently in the process of launching her creative agency, Fckry Factory.
Silent City (2020)
Comments from the artist
SILENT CITY by Conrad Clifton is a collection of street photography and candid portraits, shot entirely on 35mm and 120 film. The enlarged photo prints on display are a curated selection from the book.
Named after the song from 'GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE', this book presents a New York City that still thrives, amidst the worst circumstances we’ve seen in generations. The theme is of self-reflection and empathy.
Conrad Clifton is a Brooklyn-based electronic artist, and label founder at Infinity Pool Recordings. He blends electronic music and hip-hop together in unique and daring ways, that tell a tale through each tune. Winner of the Independent Music Award for Best Dance/Electronic EP, Conrad was called "one of the most exciting electronic artists to watch" by EARMILK.
The new photography book 'SILENT CITY' presents a foray into the art world for Conrad. He believes "creativity is free flowing, and shouldn't be limited to just one medium". For him, film photography is another means of expression, and the response from the public has been noticeably welcoming. The forthcoming feature in COOPH Magazine will delve deeper into the book's creation, inspiration, and stand out images.
Made With American Cotton (2020)
Comments from the artist
The idea for my series came unexpectedly. I found a tag in a piece of vintage clothing that said ‘Made With American Cotton.’ My first reaction was “Why would you want to associate yourself with American cotton? That evokes empire, colonialism, racism, wealth disparities that have lasted into our present.”
Using cotton, paper, and found objects such as broken police barriers and artifacts of American history, my artworks explore our history and present relationships with white supremacy, white womanhood, police oppression and the racial wealth gap.
I also want it to be personal. For instance, with a collage that uses a part of my face I am also implicated.
Learn more about the inspiration behind the series and why I make art about white supremacy in this short video:
Lea Wülferth is a German and American artist based in Brooklyn. She explores themes of freedom, identity, memory, and truth(s) on a personal and socio-political level across different media. Her poems and artwork have been published and exhibited at the A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, and others. She curates the YouTooCanWoo Gallery in Brooklyn. She graduated from the University of Oxford, England, and the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
The pandemic has affected how and where we interact with art and with our creative community. Out of curiosity and necessity we started working with new tools and making art for digital presentation. Our video program was curated from pieces created during this time. In addition to Austi, Conrad and Lea, frequent collaborator Derek Muro contributed music and sound to two of the pieces, and the Art Students League's - now virtual - "Conceptual Art" group helped develop ideas.
In Pursuit of Sadness (2020) by Lea Wülferth and Derek Muro
Uncry, Uncrash, Unrain (2020) by Lea Wülferth
Pacific Ocean (2020) by Lea Wülferth
#6 Feet Apart (2020) by Austance Caroline, Conrad Clifton and Lea Wülferth with music by Derek Muro
Watch our video program on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/showcase/7879286 with pw: phaseiv
The Collective and How Our Artworks Communicate
"It's healing to see amazing artists like Austance, Conrad and Lea come together as a collective, despite these crazy times, and put together an evening for humanity, for love and for ART! It's what the world needs more than ever."
- Brooklyn-based poet Uadjit Auset Nebt-Het
This exhibition existed in our minds before it came into physical being. Our mutually supportive collective existed before we had a name for it. Immersed in our vision of bringing our art together, every discarded item off the street, every slant of light conjured new artworks. We started sending pictures of "junk" to each other - "Do you need this?" And we'd encourage each other with every work-in-progress update. Even in the early developmental stages we'd discuss our pieces of art as if describing something physically before us, not mere ideas. Through that dialogue and our energetic connections we had no doubt that Gymnopedie was the right space for us, that Phase IV was the right title, and that our three bodies of work would both stand alone and communicate with each from different sides of the former gym. It is beautiful to deliver on a shared vision.
At the same time, it's a strange thing to create a show envisioned as a physical installation not knowing whether new pandemic restrictions would shut us down before we greeted our first visitors. We repeatedly reassured each other that this art needed to be made, we needed to come together, and we'd find a way to share it.
The response was more beautiful than we could have imagined. After months of separateness, fellow humans entered the space and experienced something we hadn't in far too long. Austi observed people crisscrossing the room, contemplating one artist's work before being drawn to another's, creating new storylines and connections. Conversations emerged about the history and symbolism of American cotton, the life stories of 'Savannah Shaggy' and other people in Conrad's photographs, our ancestors (biological, spiritual, cultural) like those in Austi's installation, and our joint future(s). We were safe behind masks but indelibly connected. We will never underestimate the power of art, of love, of community again.
We will be creating more happenings and ways to connect. In the meantime, maybe light some incense and keep Conrad's playlist going as you take your own journey into this special place through our photo gallery.
Austi, Conrad, Lea