Tenement Testament

February 19, 2010

New York City’s East Village has long been a mecca for artists of all stripes, but has seen dramatic changes in recent years. Some of the neighborhood’s artistic history was recently on view in an exhibition at Bullet Space, which was organized by alumnus and faculty member Andrew Castrucci (MFA 2009 Fine Arts; BFA 1984 Media Arts). As covered on The New York Times‘ blog City Room, “The Perfect Crime” featured artwork and artifacts from abandoned structures taken over by squatters. Bullet Space itself was founded as part of the squatters movement: Castrucci and others claimed the abandoned property in 1986 and transformed it into an experimental gallery.

Castrucci spoke with the Briefs about Bullet Space:

Tell me about the genesis of Bullet Space.
When I graduated from SVA, I opened up the A&P Gallery, which was part of the downtown art movement at the time. After I got priced out of that gallery, I moved into Bullet Space, and after 1 – 2 years of revamping, we began to have exhibitions.

How has the space evolved?
Bullet Space started as an alternative art space and it still is. Since we are an experimental space, we take risks that commercial galleries wouldn’t. For example, our last exhibition showed squatter art, everyday objects and “junk” as art–much in the Arte Povera tradition–and even the tools we used to make the works as art. In our excavation of the space, we got lucky and found the old outhouse for the tenement. In treating an archive as an art form, we put that on display as well.

What motivated you to get your MFA recently?
I think I was hanging out with too many outlaws in the squatting scene and so it was a bit of a relief to go back to SVA. What I enjoy is the idea of groups of artists working together. It’s the same in a school as in art collectives, where artists are both creating and presenting. I bridge both worlds.

Image: Photo of interior of Bullet Space by Andrew Castrucci

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