Annexed territory

On Wednesday night, I headed over with some friends to the opening of Anton Kern Gallery's "new" Annex space at 558 West 21st Street (you might recognize this address from December of last year, when Andrew Kreps was using the three-story building as a temporary exhibition space). Rounding the corner from Tenth Avenue onto a bleak 21st Street, I was starting to think that maybe I'd done the unthinkable as a Time Out writer and gotten my dates (or spaces) mixed up: The street was deserted, save for a few late-evening workers spray-painting a taxicab in a garage. But once the yellow fog dissipated a half block down the road, we were able to make out a crowd on the unlit sidewalk outside the gallery, and knew we'd come to the right place at the right time after all.

The main attraction was John Bock's sculptural installation 8 x 11 Mit Schisslaveng, which for all of November had been installed up on Anton Kern Gallery's roof next door. We entered to find Bock's sculptures (assemblages of tarps, overturned tables, knit skullcaps, stale pepperoni pizza slices and other unconventional sculptural elements) reinstalled on the first floor of the crude annex space, arranged in such a way that if a visitor wanted to cut across the room, she would have to gingerly sidestep piles of miscellaneous objects. (Picture walking around a frat house redecorated by Salvador Dal: That's kinda what it felt like.)

Climbing the stairs to the second floor, we found ourselves in a dark, empty space—the only light and sound coming from Bock's film Frau in Hotel being projected onto one of the windowless walls. Ascending one more flight to check out the group show upstairs, we emerged, somewhat dazed, into a bright room packed with young people, all chatting nonchalantly as if they'd already been there for hours.

Some time later, strolling out of the show and back down 21st Street, I thought to myself how great it is that in New York, crowds will always gather for an art show—even on a Wednesday night in some beat-up building all the way the hell over near Tenth Avenue. Seems that if you build it, they will come...especially in Chelsea.