Going Splaces: School of Visual Arts x Splacer
A couple of months ago we collaborated with The School of Visual Arts by helping 2nd year MFA students of the Design Delight course find space for their thesis. The course itself lasts 10 weeks and is dedicated to guiding students through the design of an experience that tailors to the topic of inquiry for their thesis. At Splacer, we’re all about spaces and how they inspire and affect us. It was a no-brainer to partner with S.V.A. where students are taught to push the boundaries of creativity. The resulting projects were simply stunning. From a pop-up shop encouraging us to be bad, to an artfully driven yoga class encouraging us to reconnect with our bodies, each space had something to say.
In a hip and rising arts neighborhood of the Lower East Side, students Eden Lew and Ziyun Qi both activated an intimate gallery space in an inimitable way. Lew’s project entitled “Masterminds, A Con Shop” is a one-day pop up shop commending characters of blockbuster crime films. The shop prompted people to misbehave and share their criminal secrets. Participants stepped into a quasi-confession booth adorning masks of famous fictional faces and were asked the question, “When was the last time you were proud of doing something bad?” The resulting responses were quite intriguing. “I stole a hot wheels car,” said one person. “I vandalized a sign,” said another. One guest touted, “I cheated a catholic school out of one million dollars.” The booth then calculated their level of “badassery” and accordingly presented guests with pins corresponding to their scores. Scores ranged from bold move, to trickster, daredevil, to hazardous, superbad, all the way to the ultimate level of badassery, mastermind. See for yourself in the video below:
On the other hand, Ziyun Qi’s take on the space was quite different. Qi’s project, “Petting Zoo of Animated Chairs”, sought to analyze life from the perspective of inanimate objects. It encouraged guests to rethink the relationship they have with objects that in reality, can’t communicate. Visitors were asked to sit in a chair against a large tapestry concealing the operator of the chair’s arms. When the guest sat down, the chair would come to life interacting with the person in a more humanistic way.
Marianna Mezhibovskaya, transformed our Creative Gallery to fit her project entitled “Conviction.” Conviction is a collection of stories and drawings by people who are currently incarcerated. It’s an interactive exhibition dedicated to sharing the firsthand experiences of incarcerated people at a local New York Correctional Facility. Mezhibovskaya transformed the space from a blank creative co-working space into one that conveyed something much deeper. Conviction allowed guests to hold the inmates stories in their hands and then react through personalized post cards. The books were filled with inmate journal entries, magazine cutouts, and original artwork. Conviction truly had a conviction of its own, positively changing the perception of people in jail. It sought to give them a voice reaching beyond the bars of their cells. In a way freeing them.
Souvik Paul, an S.V.A. student utilized our space to lead a multimedia restorative yoga session entitled “Silent: Meditations of the Body.” The class was hosted at Ninja Studios, located in Long Island city, another location found with the help of Splacer. This studio has high ceilings, large windows, and is the perfect space for finding your muse. During the event, participants moved their bodies into yogic poses and contemplated the sensation and feeling of their bodies. The silence of the event is punctuated by the stories of individuals who have unique perspectives on their lived-in bodily experiences and are sourced by a series of recordings of dancers, yogis and people with paralysis.
“In moments of meditation, I really become more aware of my body and of my limbs particularly my special proximity. When i’m sitting down I almost feel the walls come closer to my body,” One guest reacted. “When there is numbness and quietness in terms of sensation and movement you don’t really quite know what’s really happening and what’s not so a lot of it has to be driven by thought and even imagination,” another participant commented.
The Design Delight students truly utilized each space to its fullest potential, invigorating the minds of those who participated. It’s a truly amazing thing to see. A blank space becoming so much more than what it actually is.
Words by Kevin Soojian