Brooke Wise | That Ivory Tower's Foundation Doesn't Look All That Encrypted
What makes a successful curator in today’s changing art market? The world still revolves around old-world blue-chip authority, though with the ever-so-modern inevitability of digital consumerism and the irreverence that comes with work created outside conventional parameters, aren’t we ready for the new generation yet? As many resources have continually pushed onto the public a consistent stream of old white men and a novel few women, are the kids paying attention?
In comes Montreal born, bicoastal-based Brooke Wise, the golden girl of a new set of curators who balances the worlds of the classic and cool, merging fashion and art in a way which brings modernity to highbrow spaces and authority to the low.
“While I was still studying at Parsons The New School for Design, I curated my first show in the Bowery Hotel event space,” she recalls. “We had pieces hanging from the ceiling, resting on couches and bars. It got a lot of attention and really helped pave the way for what I do now.” Since then, her curatorial reach has included collaborating with Public Arts (the event and party space) at the Public Hotel in New York, where she produced a show constructed in a similar manner. Works were installed in unconventional places, like the metal catwalk on which pieces by Chloe Wise, Austin Lee, Nick Stewart, Bradley Soileau, Hein Koh, and others, hung. The success these two shows garnered gave Wise further recognition and acclaim, validating her career and leading her to curate projects in multiple cities.
Though higher profile projects include shows at Castor Gallery on the Lower East Side, Winsor Gallery in Vancouver, and Steve Turner Gallery in Los Angeles to name a few, it is the attention Wise received from her work with art outsiders who take up the digital creator space that has rendered her an online champion. This includes her projects with The Standard Hotels, which open the dialog on and question who decides art’s legacy and worth despite academia’s imminent influence.
The apex of these projects comes in the form of her biannual film festival, Aloha From Hell, which serves as a curatorial venture unmoored from fine art. The range of works are consistent with a dark and satirical theme, showcasing video-art five minutes or less by an array of creatives, musicians, rappers, comedians, and more. “The purpose of these side events is to include people that may not have the same eligibility to participate as fine artists in a fine art exhibition, so no one is excluded. It’s really accessible and all-welcoming,” Wise proudly shares.
Indeed, the conversation surrounding art and accessibility is swelling, and Wise notes that people, regardless of status, still engage with technology. “I see artists introducing iPhones and apps into the art they are making. It’s interesting to see how we can involve the cell-phones, which attach to our hips, into the art experience,” she adds. “Instead of filming it for Instagram, your phone activates the piece of work you are looking at.” Though these techniques have been on the beta side of user-friendly accessibility (recently presented in the face-mapping works of Instagram filters), the role of augmented reality in the future makes one wonder whether the struggle to align technology with traditional standards of art has finally arrived. But then again, isn’t the contemporary batch of curators responsible for taking their clients into unexplored artistic territory?
When I ask Wise how to channel social media towards buildings networks and communities, she is eager to reply. “I think it’s positive. People like to bash Instagram a lot because lots of shitty things are associated with it, like weird, non-important things. It’s funny because Instagram is such a great media for art because you can circulate your work in ways you couldn’t in the past—especially for someone who is a curator looking for new stuff all the time. It’s crazy how a few hours on Instagram can show you so many new artists and new pieces of work and really educate you.”
More recently, Wise has collaborated with previous Flaunt alumni and creative collective, Sexy Beast, a philanthropic group combining art and women’s rights. Wise reflects on their first-time encounter, “I DM’ed them, ‘We should get lunch one day and talk.’ Kristen, one of the founders, contacted me and said she was about to email me the same thing, because we’ve both been on each other’s radar. Suddenly, we decided we would help each other out for the Casa Perfect event which happened a few weeks ago.” From conception to production, Wise’s grasp on the academic standards of her predecessors, in addition to her pulse on the cultural zeitgeist, has amalgamated into a winning formula that will help her define and navigate the evolving art world.