Just blocks from the World Trade Center, an abandoned Irish pub sits in the shadow of new residential skyscrapers like 21 Park Place, the Four Seasons Residences, and the Woolworth Residences. It’s a far cry from what this neighborhood was once like, the stomping grounds of every-day New Yorkers working at or in the vicinity of City Hall and Newspaper Row. The World Trade Center attacks hit this lower part of Tribeca hard. But since then, it has seen a real estate revolution, becoming an example of the extremes that New York City seems to now specialize in: $100 million+ penthouses contrasted with with long-operating taverns and saloons just next door.

The Barleycorn pub at 23 Park Place was one of those spots, and its ultimate demise was precisely thanks to those new luxury buildings. A collapse at the construction of 21 Park Place last spring led to a vacate order for the building which houses the Irish bar last spring. The Barleycorn has been vacant since May 2019…until tonight, when the art exhibition FiDi Arsenale opens.

FiDi Arsenale work by Jason IsoliniWork by Jason Isolini at FiDi Arsenale. Photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

FiDi Arsenale features 16 emerging artists and architects, and is curated by Hot Air and Collin Clarke from the Brooklyn gallery Mery Gates. Hot Air is led by designer Bika Rebek and Matt Shaw and is focused on providing an alternative platform for artists in New York City. Rebek, who is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University GSAPP and the principal of Some Place studio, tells Untapped New York, “We don’t have a permanent gallery space. We’re always occupying empty or abandoned or in-between spaces. Now we found this abandoned Irish pub.” Hot Air’s “first” gallery space was Haute Air, a former upscale blow dry bar in Soho.

FiDi Arsenale work by Daesup SongWork by Daesup Song. Photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

Both FiDi Arsenale and Hot Air aim to highlight the perverseness of the logic of capital. “The topic of the show is how artists are being pushed to the margins in New York,” says Rebek, “with less and less space to actually show art. [It’s about] how Manhattan isn’t the place anymore to do things in terms of showing art or [doing things] DIY. We see world buildings in these leftover pockets of late stage capitalism. We are operating at the fringe in every way.”

The artists themselves also represent the overall theme, all of them working jobs to support their creative endeavors. “They are taking resources from their job to create their art,” says Rebek. The works in the show span the gamut of genres, from sculptures, found objects, 3D scanning, video games, and more.

FiDi Arsenale work by Tea StrazicicWork by Tea Strazicic. Photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

The press release for the opening states that “the securing of abandoned retail and unused residential space in the physical world allows artists to experiment with ways of displaying work untethered from market viability. Undermining the need for traditional exhibition space, these strategies challenge the implicit power structures of the art market and financial capital.”

The space itself also reveals elements of these global processes, with original brick wall visible (the building dates to 1857) and a very lower Manhattan-esque layout which spans block to block. You’ll also find the original wooden bar, which is incredibly long. It’s “surreal, like being in a video game,” describes Rebek.

FiDi Arsenale work by Sam RolfesWork by Sam Rofles. Photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

The opening reception for FiDi Arsenale is tonight form 6 to 9 PM at 23 Park Place. On March 19th at 6 PM, Rebek will be giving a curator walkthrough of FiDi Arsenale for our Untapped New York Insiders. Registration for this event will open on March 5th.

FiDi Arsenale work by Rachel RoshegerWork by Rachel Rosheger. Photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

Hot Air is curated by Collin Clarke, Bika Rebek, and Matt Shaw with contributions from Joshua Citarella, Keiron de Nobriga, Mark Fingerhut, Claire Hentschker, Jason Isolini, Damjan Jovanovic, Filip Kostic, Pierce Myers, Sam Rolfes, Bika Rebek, Rachel Rosheger, Daesup Song, Tea Strazicic, Stock-a-Studio, Theo Triantafyllidis, and Leah Wulfman.

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Header photo courtesy FiDi Arsenale/Hot Air.

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