April 2016


Open Source Gallery

Brooklyn NYC

With Sole Exchange at the Open Source, artist Francis Palazzolo intervenes and disrupts the high degree of cultural polarization. In mixing shoes and overturning traditional modes of display the storylines of audience activation and visual spectacle conflate. As the gallery fills with diverse people aesthetic values, financial status  and hierarchical relationships blur in unpredictable terms. 

In 2014 Palazzolo began experimenting with the process of placing yourself into someone else's shoes. To put the idea into practice he engaged members of the Healing Arts Initiative (HAI), both collectively and with personal studio work, further development included a collaboration with art therapists at the School of Visual Arts Gallery. In the spring of 2016 the Open Source Gallery invites the general public to participate in the interactive process by joining Palazzolo and fourteen HAI artists, mainly artists of color who are diagnosed with severe mental illness: Ray Lopez, Laura Anne Walker, Roger Jones, Aracelis Rivera, Lukau Lukelo, Alix Cesar, Mike Spence, Linda Moses, Georgia Redd, Anthony Perez, Girl Negron, Gary Peabody, Phillip Clark & Derrick Coard.

Project Description

In Sole Exchange the show offers varying degrees of participation. Seating is available for the physical exchange of putting oneself into another’s shoes. Swapping heightens the opportunity to experience another’s situation and to share in discourse. Plastic socks are on hand to place over un-shoed feet to ease the switch of footwear. The transfer & retrieval of shoes produces a relational object where commodity, private ownership & reliable use are suspended. As agents of socialization, shoes are a means to decenter agency, and the “path” in empathy takes form.

Display pedestals are refashioned to support the participants in a social sculpture. From an art historical perspective, removing the base for a closer connection to art was important. Here, with people sitting on pedestals exchanging shoes as art, the sculpture base is the location for interpersonal activity.

Along with face-to-face encounters, the participants are surrounded with the trappings of representational art to help negotiate unspoken or unrealized spaces between people.  Art supplies are readily available throughout the gallery for anyone to use, tempting the graphic instinct to draw; trace one another; and autograph the pedestals.

The work upon the walls straddles the juncture between revealing and concealing togetherness. Palazzolo and the HAI artists also pictured themselves in the role of their counterparts. They suspend disbelief and render intersubjectivity wide enough to encompass even thinly veiled kinships.

At the School of Visual Arts Gallery, artists & working together with art therapists: Samantha Tomao, Annette Melvin, Carina Gomez, Yiren Sun, Yejin Yoo & Joey Modica. 

Artists Laura Anne Walker, Derrick Coard, Lukau Lukelo, & Ray Lopez working at the Healing Arts Initiative  in Long Island City, Queens, and Palazzolo in his studio, Manhattan. 

To sustain diversity over the duration of a month, the Open Source, HAI, and Palazzolo facilitate engagement with underserved groups and interested gallery-goers.

Sole Exchange is a place-setting for being seen, acknowledgement, and contribution. The show will be on view during regular gallery hours, an opening night reception and 3 special events throughout the show. HAI will provide people at risk with transportation when necessary.

The Open Source will reach out to local soup kitchens, shelters, nursing homes, community centers, and other organizations that serve those in need, such as Good Shepherd Services, Arab-American Family Support Center, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and the Red Hook Community Justice Center. HAI will draw from its network of collaborators and invite individuals from programs such as the Queens Center for Progress and AHRC’s Weingold Center DayHab. To reach the gallery-going public, the project will be advertised online, in print and text, and translated into the 3 most spoken languages in Brooklyn (English, Spanish, Chinese).

Video Part 1: Filmed by Lily Borghi at the Healing Arts Initiative, Long Island City, Queens 9/ 30/14. Participants: Patty Reitkopf, Eric Hibit, Heather Levine, Quimetta Perle, Salley Mae, Carol Sterling, Robert Curran, Ellen Fisher & Francis Palazzolo.

Video Part 2: Filmed by Liz Delli Carpini at the Healing Arts Intitiative, Long Island City, Queens 8/14/14. Participants: Laura Anne Walker, Natu Perle-Henderson, Roger Jones, Ray Lopez, Stephanie, Alyson,  Clint Hodes, Alix Cesar & Francis Palazzolo.

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