Art for activism’s sake
Written by Bwog Staff
If you’ve been oblivious to the many attention-grabbing efforts on campus (the chalked stairs in Hamilton are a nice touch), you may not have heard about the SCEG/Postcrypt gallery show going on right now, “Expanding Perspectives: West Harlem,” which opened Friday in the basement of St. Paul’s and features art by both Columbia students and members of the greater community. Together with the lavish Robert Moses show in Wallach (more on that later), the exhibition forms one half of a complementary duo of timely campus happenings that expound on unique angles regarding Manhattanville expansion– the human and the historical– with extraordinary effects.
Bwog stopped by the gallery during Friday night’s opening, which was abuzz with organizers, friends, artists, and critics (we noticed an august gentleman perambulating with an electronic critique notebook). The event, of course, wasn’t just about the pieces, many of which are stunning, but rather the things people were saying about them. On one work, entitled, “Semiotics, Smoked Fish, and Scotch Tape,” gallery-goers were actually encouraged to write personal messages in black Sharpie, resulting in notes like, “A place of beauty, strive, and strength. I love Harlem, it’s in my blood and veins,” mingled with personal tags and other comments.
After observing three female dancers performing a dirge-like routine with an orange electrical cord, we managed to get some photos before our camera battery blinkered out. Then, cool kids that we are, we chatted briefly with Sophie, who’s been doing some of the wheatpaste art you see around campus, about her work. “It’s just a character that I draw,” she said, about her forlorn, blight-affected owls. “When I started, I didn’t know what I was doing. I found a wheatpaste recipe online… It’s just newsprint and Sharpie markers.” And famous, mind you.