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The Brooklyn Paper's Review of the BRIC Biennial

Jan 28, 2019 • 10:00 AM

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January 28, 2019

Unreal estate: Bienniel shows wild art from below the Slope

BY JULIANNE CUBA

It’s art of this world!

A new exhibition will celebrate the otherworldly sculptures, paintings, and tapestries of artists from across Southern Brooklyn. Many of the creators included in “Bric Biennial, Vol. III: South Brooklyn Edition,” opening on Feb. 6 at the Bric House in Fort Greene, use their work to reject the status quo and substitute their own reality, said one of the show’s curators, leading to the show’s theme “The Impossible Possible.”

“The main trend through a lot of their work is artists thinking about utopian or dystopian ways of being — an alternate reality,” said Jennifer Gerow, who lives in Fort Greene. “Instead of current political issues we’re facing, they’re thinking outside of that realm, of what could possibly be, even though it seems impossible at the moment.”

The show features 19 artists, most of whom live and work in the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Gowanus, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge. Among the local creators of fantastical worlds is Frank Wang Yefeng, who made the digital image “Crossing the Alps,” featuring a helmeted figure riding a giant dog with the head of a phonograph horn.

A piece from another artist, “Ascent of Lamarckism,” looks at human bodies in alternate realities, according to artist Laura Bernstein, who lives and works in Bedford-Stuyvesant, just outside the borders of Southern Brooklyn.

“It came from this project I’ve been working on the past couple years, which looks at ancient and medieval bestiaries, like different mythologies of these past half-human creature figures,” she said.

Bernstein’s sculpture features five human-like figures scaling a column, evoking questions about evolution, how humans will develop, and whether the current human body is sustainable, said the artist.

“I was looking at the Pompeii bodies and thinking about the evolution of these medieval creatures,” said Bernstein. “What if in the future, when our current landscape no longer supports out current physiology and biology, we need to take on these oversized characteristics and traits of these beasts?”

The title is a nod to French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who theorized that animals would evolve traits to help them survive, such as giraffes developing long necks to reach high trees. The sculpture questions whether the same evolution will happen with humans, said Bernstein.

“When our landscape does not support us anymore, will we take on some of these exaggerated traits, like one long foot, or extremely long necks?” she said.

The show is the third iteration of the Bric Biennial. The inaugural exhibition in 2014 focused on neighborhoods Downtown, and the second concentrated on artists in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.

The artists’ work will be on display at Bric and at five satellite exhibitions scattered throughout the featured neighborhoods.

“Bric Biennial: Volume III, South Brooklyn Edition” at Bric House (647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, www.bricartsmedia.org). Opening reception Feb. 6 at 7 pm. On display through April 7, Tue–Fri, 11 am–7 pm; Sat–Sun, 11 am–5 pm. Closed Mondays. Free.