Crossing Brooklyn: "RM03"

March 8, 2003 - April 25, 2003
Central Library, Lobby Gallery
Crossing Brooklyn Series

"RM03" is the second in a series of three “Crossing Brooklyn” installations by innovative Brooklyn artists reflecting aspects of life in the borough. The series, which is organized by Smack Mellon and curated by Marian Griffiths, will continue with the work of John Beech (May 2-June 27).

Tom Kotik

In this site-specific installation, Brooklyn artist Tom Kotik invites you to use your imagination and step back in time -- into the room of a home demolished during construction of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE). The BQE was the brainchild of Robert Moses, chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. When construction began in 1937, Brooklyn neighborhoods were divided, homes were demolished, and people were forced to move to make way for what many engineers consider to be one of the most unique highways in the country.

In his “room” the artist sets a miniature bust of Robert Moses on a stand against the backdrop of old-fashioned wallpaper, symbolically placing Moses in a space that would still exist if the BQE had never been built. Kotik, who is both critical of Moses and thankful for the BQE, asks you to reflect on your own memories of home, and to consider the idea that a home is never really destroyed if someone remembers living there. All of the installation’s elements were designed and made by Kotik, including the plaster bust, wooden stand, and wallcovering.

"I believe it is impossible to completely erase a home by demolishing it, if there are people that can remember living there," says Kotik. "New memories are being created every moment that someone drives their car along the paths once inhabited by others. RM03 is not a critique as much as a space to pause and reflect. Just as expressways are needed to get us from place to place, reflection is sometimes necessary to know why we go there."

The exhibit includes a display on the second-floor balcony with a collage of maps from 1929 and the present, showing the transformation of the urban landscape from residential neighborhoods such as Greenpoint, Cobble Hill and Bay Ridge, to the present BQE.

Tom Kotik is a Brooklyn-based artist, whose exhibitions have been mounted locally and internationally, including “Banners” (Venice, Italy, 2001); “Trajectories” (Smack Mellon Studios, NYC, 2000); “Once Removed” (Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC, 2000); and “Perception Machine II” (Prague, CZ, 2000). He studied Theater Design and Architecture at the School of the Applied Arts in Prague, and graduated cum laude with a bachelor degree in Studio Art from New York University.

This exhibition is organized for Brooklyn Public Library by Smack Mellon and curated by Marian Griffiths.