Climb inside artists’ brains at “Headscapes” (slide show)

Check out photos of this immersive, otherworldly LIC gallery show; plus, read an interview with one of the curators.

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  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

  • Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

    Headscapes

Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

Headscapes


There are plenty of eye-catching galleries on Jackson Avenue in Queens, an industrial stretch of Long Island City that’s become an alt-art nerve center. But mosey past 26-19 this week, and you’ll come across a storefront that looks like a forest in autumn, with peculiar knickknacks on the shelves and wood chips lining the floor. This is the entrance to “Headscapes,” a group exhibit that invites gallerygoers to clamber inside the minds of 26 different artists.

There are 17 installations on display inside a warehouselike area, meant to represent the inner worlds of their creators. And this is definitely not a look-don’t-touch situation. You can, among other things, scamper up a rope ladder that leads up to a plant-filled loft; crawl inside an igloo made of speakers; get behind the seat of a busted-up sedan and watch a film play across the windshield; and wander inside a miniature wooden labyrinth. And did we mention there’s a friendly dog wandering around the room?

Cocurated by Benjamin Mortimer, Jah Jah Brown, Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor and Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, this singular pop-up exhibit is something to be experienced. Stop by this Saturday night to see performances in the space from drone-rockers Guardian Alien, Sun Watchers and Vness Wolfchild, plus a site-specific play by Dome Theatre (6–10pm; $5). Read on for an interview with Mortimer, a photographer and fabricator, about the genesis of “Headscapes.”

Time Out New York: How did Headscapes come about?

Benjamin Mortimer: Jah Jah Brown had the idea for this show. He wanted to build a structure that was the normal world on the outside that you kind of want to get away from as an artist; and then inside, the structure represented where you went inside your own head when you were being creative and hiding from the outside world. He told me and Nick [Chatfield-Taylor] about it, and we were like, this is a genius idea.

Time Out New York: Has this group of artists done anything together before?
Benjamin Mortimer: We’ve all worked together for years. A bunch of us did the Miss Rockaway Armada and Swimming Cities, the two incarnations of Swoon’s homemade-raft project that goes down a different waterway every year. We did the Mississippi two years, we did the Ganges in India, and we went to Italy and stormed the Venice Biennale. A lot of us in the group are also in Black Label Bike Club, which does jousting on tall bikes. The thing that brings all of us together is we all do kind of indefinable projects. We’re really honestly a big family.

Time Out New York: There seems to be a real sense of play and a return to childhood in these pieces.
Benjamin Mortimer: I think we all had this idea of building forts when we were kids, and how that influenced you as an artist, or maybe even made you an artist. That kind of make-believe—you can make your own world where you can do whatever you wanna do, where you don’t have to live in your parents’ house and deal with school and the babysitter. You can build a submarine out of your couch, and be in World War II fighting the Germans or something.

Time Out New York: Have people who’ve come to see the show been hesitant in interacting with the pieces, or have they dived right in?
Benjamin Mortimer: I expected a lot more hesitation. On opening night, the first few groups that came in didn’t really know what to make of it, and then as soon someone climbed in a space, they were like, “Is that okay?” And we were like, “You’re encouraged to go in every space.” And I don’t think I said that to anyone else the whole rest of the time. People really went through every structure and spent as much time as they wanted to. It was really awesome to see.

Time Out New York: How did you find the space?
Benjamin Mortimer: Will Etundi, who runs See.Me next door, talked to the real-estate company that owns the whole block and got us the space next door. And they were super supportive—they didn’t ask for any money; they didn’t require us to do anything except not burn the building down.

Time Out New York: What was it being used for before?
Benjamin Mortimer: It’s abandoned. It was supposedly a taxi center, where they kept cars; but I’m almost positive it was a front of some kind, because there is not a single drop of any car-related fluids on the floor. When we had the oil company come out to turn the heat on, one of the guys casually commented, “Oh, I came here a couple years ago, and it was a completely empty room with just a poker table directly under a bright light.” And I was like, “I knew it!”

“Headscapes” is at 26-19 Jackson Ave between 43rd Ave and 44th Dr, Long Island City, Queens (headscapes-show.tumblr.com). Wed–Sun noon–6pm; free. Through Mar 24.


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