By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An art exhibit examining income inequality called "In Search of One City: Sensing (in)equality" kicked off at the Old Stone House in Park Slope on Thursday. The exhibit, which will run on Friday for the next two months, features pieces that creatively use jukeboxes, maps and audio and visual equipment to explain inequality using more than just one sense.
The exhibit's title is loosely based on Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign phrase "In Search of One City" and makes use of artists who have a reputation for creating interpretations and solutions for local and national policy debates.
“I was inspired to do a show about income inequality because it has been such a key issue in local and national news and debates,” said the exhibit's curator Katherine Gressel. “It was mainly inspired by the fact that I come in contact with a lot of artists. I noticed a lot of these particular artists that were doing projects that, to me, drove home the point of income inequality, the causes behind it and finding ways to address it.”
Gressel said she was inspired to create the show after she saw Laura Hadden and Tennessee Watson's piece "Wage/Working Jukebox" which is a working jukebox that plays workers’ narratives based on the amount of time it takes that worker to earn $1.
“I think around the same time I discovered the artist Jody Wood, who created a mobile beauty salon serving homeless shelters,” Gressel said. “Those two projects inspired the show and then I started researching other artists who were addressing income inequality in other ways. I really like the idea of bringing them together in a space where there can be dialogue and education on this topic.”
The exhibits attempt to work off each other with Dread Scott, Jennifer Dalton, Kenneth Pietrobono and others exploring policies and attitudes behind economic disparities. Kameelah Janan Rasheed's posters give instructions for how poor people should "suffer politely." Jennifer Dalton's “Paradox Party Favors” dispenses candy for visitors with phrases printed on them such as "I believe money corrupts except when I have some."
Sue Jeong Ka created a two-part piece which features a digital video for the event titled "Alison and Pauline" and a contract referred to an “Agreement of Domestic Employment for Female Immigrant Workers in New York,” which attempts to examine and formalize the unwritten domestic work employment contracts between immigrants.
“Undocumented female immigrant workers are at the highest risk for exploitation,” said Ka. “Those people are less likely to sign a legal working document notifying them of their rights when they are hired.”
The exhibit will also offer various programs throughout the two months including a "Know Your Rights" screen printing and a tenants' rights workshop with Oasa DuVerney and Mildred Beltre (Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine) on Sunday, Sept. 13 from noon to 4 p.m. Visit http://theoldstonehouse.org/ for more information on that and other events.
“For us it's really this ongoing conversation about civic engagement,” said the Old Stone House’s Executive Director Kimberly Maier. “I think the artists in this show in particular show a really great commitment to social practice and community engagement. Part of our work in a social space it is to bring together people in diverse backgrounds who are having an ongoing conversation about what's important to us as citizens of New York City.”