Project For Empty Space: Re-imagining abandoned and unusual urban spaces.

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by Meenakshi Thirukode on Monday, January 20, 2014


Session type

Technical level


Project for Empty Space is an experiment founded in 2010 that brings socially engaged, public and performance based practices into abandoned urban spaces with the idea to re-imagine urban space, focusing on community building and art education. The objective is to higlight artists as cultural producers and to re-imagine these individual and collective roles beyond the boundary of the 'art' world. That as cultural producers you dont 'reflect' society. Instead, in you rests the power to create it.


The talk 'Project For Empty Space: Re-imagining abandoned and unusual urban spaces will look into the history of public art and in particular in the context of institutional critique. While those practices rest within Western Art critical theory, its a segue into contemporary practices that go beyond the idea of what 'public art' encompasses. Without going too much into a purely academic rhetoric, I want to focus on my own personal journey as a cultural producer. The impetus for starting Project For Empty Space (PES), with a fellow curator in New York will be dwelled into. The journey in itself sparked out of the need to just go out there with nothing but an idea and lots of heart and making things happen. It would be imperative to discuss why New York City and the advantages and disadvantages of such an endeavour, the contexts and the results that are very particular to the city. I'd like to discuss that in the light of creating a model - an alternate model, that is fast coming under the context of 'socially engaged practice', that looks at art and cultural practice as fundamental to any kind of re-envisioning of a city. And how that model can transcend beyond geography and mold itself according to the political and socio-economic structures of the community, city and country that PES looks to engage in. PES focuses on community building and art education - not in the sense of imposing pre-existing strutures but by thinking outside of that box. What does community building or art education really mean? PES places a great emphasis on not imposing our agenda but rather working with people who share similar hopes, agendas and ideas and most importantly execute them. This is key in how we approach these two factors. I'd like to conclude the talk by also addressing two key aspects:
1)Why its important to undefine oneself. To move away from tags and categories that supposedly define who you are and the work you do. And why thats important in the broader context of re-imagining 'space'.
2) Embrace Failure. How failure has played a huge and integral part to the shaping of ideas within PES. And how it continues to do so.


This will be a basic powerpoint presentation, with images and video. Id need a laptop, projector.

Speaker bio

Meenakshi is a writer and curator based in New York. Most recently she was the Director of New Media at Bushwick Film Festival 2013. She has contributed to leading publications including The Hindu (India), Whitewall Magazine (USA) and is currently contributing to an online journal on art, The Fuschia Tree. She has also contributed reviews and essays on contemporary art for artconcerns, Art Asia Pacific, Art India, Art and Deal Magazine, Art Journal, ArtMap Magazine (China), Of Note Magazine and Grassroots Literature Blog. Her current project is a cross platform film in the narrative style of Bollywood soap opera’s titled ‘Isha: A Tell-All Tale’, a story of a South Asian immigrant woman’s journey through the art world. The film launched an urban game designed by Thirukode, based around the film. Thirukode is the founder and co-curator of Project For Empty Space a non profit public art initiative that brings art into abandoned and unusual urban spaces with a focus on community building and art education. Thirukode served on the board of SAWCC (South Asian Womens Creative Collective) and is currently on the Christie’s Alumni Society Board, Christie’s, NY. Thirukode served on the curatorial committee of CURATE NYC, an online juried New York City emerging artist exhibition supported by NYCEDC. Meenakshi is a member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) as well as IKT (International Association of Contemporary Art Curators).