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Art : essay

X Initiative's BYOA

by Tatiana Berg

Everyone is sad for X Initiative’s one year art attack on Chelsea come to an end. But if we had to see ‘em go, it was sure nice to see ‘em go out with a bang.

Your Art. Did you bring it?

Everyone is sad for X Initiative ’s one year art attack on Chelsea come to an end. But if we had to see ‘em go, it was sure nice to see ‘em go out with a bang. Their final challenge? Inviting anyone and everyone to Bring Your Own Art between 11am February 3rd and 11am February 4th, and install it wherever they could find an inch of free wall or floor space. That’s it. No rules, no curators, no mercy. The ensuing joyous bedlam represented a 24-hour condensed version of the X Initiave’s bold efforts to bring some much-needed excitement and optimism to Chelsea.

Artist Jaeeun Lee's amazing/terrifying skin suit.

The jumble-bag of a show had obviously attracted a big crowd of recent and current art school grads. Performance artists roamed across all three floors, stopping to pose for pictures taken by delighted iPhone-wielding, slack-jawed onlookers (myself included). See above for current Hunter College grad Jaeeun Lee ’s show-stopping skin suit. A theatre ensemble troupe of cabaret-ready tap-dancing babes by the name of BabySkinGlove were entertaining the people waiting in line for the open bar and “bringing the glamor” when I caught them. Art Fag City made a tweet about a man that allegedly peed in a corner, but I guess I missed that part.

Much better than watching a guy pee: BabySkinGlove!

The upper two floors were crammed full of art, installed in a firmly first-come, first-serve basis. The only rule, as far as I could tell, was “NO ART IN THE STAIRWELLS.” Fair enough. Everything else, however, was up for grabs– paintings of wildly different styles and subjects crowded together, salon style. You had to mind your step to avoid trodding on any pedestal-less sculpture. It was hilarious, it was silly, it was often a mess, and it was great. Overall the feeling I got was X Initiative’s tremendous generosity: Sure, maybe artists were showing more elbow-to-elbow than they might’ve liked, but hey, the price was right. It isn’t everyday that such a fantastic space in Chelsea is opened up to artists, free of any sort of meddling middle man. That’s pretty cool.

Your Art. Did you bring it?

I don’t know who or what will fill the void now that the X Initiative has left, but I’m touched that their final effort was to throw open their doors and give artists the opportunity to just have at it. In a time when so many galleries and dealers are forced to shut down it’s nice to be reminded that there’s always more than one way to show your work. Godspeed, X Initiative. I hope you’re taking a well-deserved rest to sleep off that hangover.