Recess's mission is to support the rigorous process of the contemporary artist by creating a space for productive activity that initiates a partnership with the public.
Our model combines studio and exhibition platforms, offering artists flexible space in which to generate new work. With agency to
determine the visibility of their project and the parameters of its presentation, Recess artists realize ambitious goals in dialogue with an inquisitive audience.
Free and open to the public, Recess offers critical exposure for the artists we support while fostering an approachable environment that promotes valuable visual and intellectual interactions.
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Allison Freedman Weisberg
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contemporary art, artists in residence, active audience, public art, work in progress
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Also Known As
41 Grand St Ste G F
New York, NY 10013 1619 USA
Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)
Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)
IRS Filing Requirement
This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
How does this organization make a difference?
Recess impacts and defines the contemporary art community by facilitating immersive, in-depth, qualitative interactions among artists and audiences. In the words of Corin Hewitt, Recess's first Session artist and current board member, "Recess has created a new and very crucial opportunity for artists and the public to engage in a conversation that probes the nature of art production, in a context where production is emphasized over the commercial product. As a result, the public can access the complex and often impenetrable space of contemporary art making and share both time and space with artists while they are at work. I believe that Recess will lead the way in opening this crucial conversation and bring new forms of artistic production to both the public and to art."
What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?
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Session, Recess's signature program, creates a space for emerging and contemporary artists to engage with the New York City public in a way that no other space provides. Though similar to a residency program, Session goes beyond the traditional structure to offer sustained interactive space for our resident artists to develop and expand their creative goals while directly engaging with their City-as-audience.
Session supports the creation of new work by giving artists approximately two months to work in our public storefront. During their time at Recess, artists have agency to determine the degree to which Recess is a studio, exhibition space, or hybridized new grounds.
Generally, artists' residencies are reclusive endeavors, with little to no interaction between the artists and their viewers. Alternatively, Recess grows from the concept that art making is most dynamic when it is presented as a dialogue-- an approach that allows the artist to have meaningful interactions with their active audience throughout the creative
Recess uses several rubrics to ensure that Session is achieving these goals. Artists are asked to provide insight into their project and the strengths and weaknesses of Recess at the midpoint (in a meeting with staff) and at the end of their (Session via an evaluation form), as well as throughout their residency during close and ongoing interactions with Recess staff.
Recess staff carefully tracks our progress, monitoring quantity of constituents and quality of programming. Recess staff meets regularly to internally evaluate Session, making small programmatic adjustments to improve overall artist and visitor experience. For instance, our first Session artist asked that we stay open late one night each week. We found this suggestion extremely valuable and have since looked forward to late-night Thursdays when we can welcome new constituents who can visit outside of typical working hours.
Recess’s rotating Artist Review Panel, which selects artists for the Session program, offers valuable feedback regarding the population of artists we reach. The panel is composed of experts in the field, along with past Session participants. Their unique perspective prioritizes proposals that will most successfully operate in the Session structure and meet programmatic goals.
Members of Recess’s Board of Directors also play an important role in evaluating Recess’s program. Board members hold leadership positions throughout New York City and provide the organization with a diverse set of skills and professional networks. Jacob Buchdahl is a seasoned attorney at Susman Godfrey LLP and provides Recess with specialized legal assistance and expertise relevant to our programs. After leaving a prominent position at Goldman Sachs to start his own private equity firm, Josh Koplewicz provides Recess with invaluable financial advice specific to emerging institutions. Jan Postma is the CFO at the Museum of Modern Art and offers unique insight into the financial and fundraising concerns of nonprofit arts organizations. He has assisted with fundraising, business plans, and year-end 990 filings. Corin Hewitt, our first Session artist, works in a manner in line with our mission, and keeps us focused on the ever-evolving concerns of the contemporary artist.
Jonah Groeneboer: Double Mouth Feedback, September 4–Nov 3, 2015
Groeneboer’s project created a space that defied binary gender constructions as they exist within sound. This installation was at once a recording studio, a meeting place for discussions of project-related themes, and a performance space where visitors could make and record sound acts. Throughout the course of the project, the artist hosted recording sessions, voice workshops, and conversations that encouraged the abandonment of normative vocal behaviors as a means to re-imagine gender systems through sound. This project resulted in a multi-channel vocal composition created with electronic composer Bruno Coviello. This composition compiles the recordings that visitors contributed and uses wave patterns, interference phenomena, and vocal superposition to weave together and imagine new gender models.
Katherine Hubabrd & Savannah Knoop: Small Town Sex Shop, July 2–August 29, 2015
Over the course of their Session, Hubbard and Knoop explored connotations of production through a synthesis of clothing making, sculpture, and installation. Perverting streamlined techniques of traditional garment making determined by functionality and profit, the artists scrambled logics of efficiency in favor of excess and pleasure.
The accumulation of goods made in the space resulted in the articulation of a storefront, wherein a collection of first samples was displayed. Visitors to the space were encouraged to try on the samples, subverting the traditional distinctions between public and private space. Small Town Sex Shop made room for inventive moments and awkward intimacy in the face of New York’s reliance on privatization. More broadly, the project considered notions of context—upon walking through the door of the “sex shop” in a “small town”, individuals can jettison their public identities in favor of a sexual sociality.
Institute for New Feeling: seek, April 30–June 27, 2015
Throughout their Session, Institute for New Feeling (IfNf) created an installation that offered individuals a clairvoyant reading generated by the misuse of online search engines. For each intimate one-on-one session, a specialist led a participant through a series of assessments in order to compile his or her personal video file. This precognitive visualizer was viewable and also available for purchase in the gallery. Over the course of the month, Recess exhibited the growing archive of anonymous futures.
For centuries, people have been fascinated with devices and strategies that profess to reveal insights about themselves or their future. With seek, IfNf provided a new type of psychic/medical reading that utilized the Internet as a source of chance operations. Manifesting a kind of collaged Google oracle, this experience deployed a spectrum of assessment and divination techniques designed to answer the unanswerable.
Sara Magenheimer: False Alphabets, March 19 – April 25, 2015
During her Session, Magenheimer constructed sculptural sets composed of photographs, objects, and film equipment that became the backdrop for a new video. The script for the video, written by Magenheimer, continues the artist’s interest in voice, and employs cinematic tropes that conflate embodied language and location. The script evokes the role of “The Radio DJ” epitomized by characters like Mister Señor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing and DJ Stevie Wayne in The Fog. These figures act as the omnipotent narrators of their films and create diegetic soundtracks to their cinematic worlds.
Collaborating artists Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Free Paint (Magenheimer and Saunier) and others performed the music for and acted as narrators in the making of this video. Recess’s audience could stream these mixes online and was be invited to participate as “the listening public” on open-set days of filming. Films featuring radio DJs were also screened throughout False Alphabets.
Analog, our online residency program complements and parallels our signature program, Session. Analog provides a
sustained, virtual space that expands upon Recess’s mission to support contemporary artists working outside traditional models. This program also allows Recess to continue supporting the creative process of contemporary artists while reaching out to online, international audiences.
The current project can be found at recessanalog.org.
Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Julia Novitch: RUKA, July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016
On July 1, 2015, Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Julia Novitch began a durational presentation of RUKA as part of Analog.
The African Hair Braiding Reader project is an extension of Mutiti’s Session RUKA (To braid/ to knit/ to weave) and acknowledges process, labour, time, repetition, undoing and redoing and teaching and learning. Using braiding as a metaphor for the act of recombining perspectives, content and code, the objective of this project is to publish a series of process-oriented virtual works as well as physical objects related to the theme of African hair braiding.
On the Analog website, and ultimately in the African Hair Braiding Salon Reader, Mutiti and Novitch will accumulate pertinent audio recordings, videos, images, and personal notes, ranging from braiders’ business cards, salon posters, beauty supply purchases, colonial photographs, illustrations in academic texts, and photographs of hair braiding salons. This content will be woven together using formal rules that are open to variation, remixing, and sampling. The resulting connections amongst the collected material will form new contexts and juxtapositions.
Official Office, July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 at Konstanet (Tallinn, Estonia), Recess (NYC, USA), SOMA (Mexico City, Mexico), S T O R E (Dresden, Germany)
On July 1, 2014, S T O R E launched official office on two shelves in Recess’s Soho office space. Simultaneously, Recess launched official office on two identical shelves in S.T.O.R.E’s Dresden office space. Over the course of the year, additional art spaces around the world joined official office by installing the shelves in their office space. The project was documented on recessanalog.org.
official office consisted of two Ikea shelves. On the left shelf was a monitor with rotating video programming selected by invited official office participants. On the right shelf was a vase with a flower selected by official office participants and a clock set to local time. Photographs of each official office were uploaded to recessanalog.org. Archives of video programming are available on the Recess Analog website.
Curators for Recess’s channel were Ann Chen, Ben Wolf Noam, E.S.P. TV, Eugene Kotlyarenko, and Tin Nguyen. The archived project exists at officialoffice.net.
Elia Alba: The Supper Club, July 1, 2013-July 1, 2014
Elia Alba launched The Supper Club on Recess Analog in July 2013, after developing The Supper Club over the prior year in collaboration with Recess. The project brought together 50 artists of color over a series of private dinners, afternoon teas, whiskey socials, and other gatherings that encouraged dialogue across generations, cultures and archetypes. Alba photographed, recorded, and documented these private conversations. Recessanalog.org served as a forum to present the critical material discussed amongst the artists. Alba continually updated the site with intimate and unique content chronicling the project’s development. The archived site exists at http://thesupperclubartists.tumblr.com/.
Recess Analog mapped the engagements between participating artists and also served as a site for artists to respond to the conversation as it evolved. As the series of Supper Club events unfolded, Alba created portraits of individual participating artists, granting each player a moniker to define his or her role within the larger group. Process shots appeared on recessanalog.org as they are edited and developed. The artist will ultimately arrange these photographs and content into a publication.
Kenya (Robinson): Remitting Default: a Psycho-Economic Performance, July 1, 2011 – July 1, 2013
For the inaugural Analog residency, Kenya (Robinson) worked on a 2-year project entitled Remitting Default: a Psycho-Economic Performance. The project commenced August 30, 2011, the first day of fall matriculation. For Remiting Default, the artist recorded her two-year experience as a black MFA student at Yale University, struggling to maintain her personal finances and secure fiscal support. (Robinson) posted a daily record of the available balance in her personal checking account, turning personal information into a durational performance of the mundane.
On July 6, 2012, Kenya reported back from the midway point of her online residency. She again transcended privatized aspects of culture and language in an attempt to present her own “personal fiscal rhythm.” She invited five artists to translate her year’s worth of numerical data into sound. These collaborators presented audio material that references the dichotomies of vulnerability and empowerment, digital and analog.
In fall of 2011, Recess launched a new critical writing component in conjunction with our signature program, Session. This program commissions emerging writers to pursue the underlying theory and contemporary criticism that informs individual Session projects, initiating a meaningful exchange between artists and writers while facilitating the mutual production of new work. We are particularly interested in conversations that traverse disciplines, and we welcome related commentary from writers engaged in film, music, science, architecture, etc.
The structure and argument of the written piece is determined by the writer, and upon completion, the piece is made available in print at our space and through our website. Each finished piece is approximately 2000 words, kept short to encourage dialog from onsite readers. Eventually, Recess will organize these writings into a publication.
In June 2015, Rebecca Worby produced a short text in parallel with the Institute for New Feeling’s Session, Seek. This essay explores oracles—both historical and contemporary—and probes the ways that we use the internet as an alternate form of fortune-telling. In response to this text, one of the members of the Institute for New Feeling wrote; “I can’t imagine a better articulation/insightful research of the things we’re interested in with this project … I feel like this has actually helped to deepen my own understanding of our piece.”
In December 2013, Thomas Lax initiated a collectively authored text in response to Courtesy the Artists’ Session Trad. Lax focuses on one of the events that took part during the Session—a performance entitled 24-Hour Ballad that invited 24 artistic collaborators to draw out one folk song over the course of a full sun-cycle. Lax introduces his text with a personal reflection on the event and then opens up the piece in a way that mirrors the collaborative ethos of Courtesy the Artists (the artistic duo of Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade): Lax invites additional writers to contribute an individual response detailing their experience of one hour of the performance.
In October 2012, Sara Roffino produced a short work in parallel with Molly Dilworth’s Session Date the Time. In her text, Roffino explores the ways in which we respond to and interpret our modern, digital world and draws comparisons to how Susan Sontag and Robert Irwin dealt with visual culture in their own time. Recess staff worked with Roffino on several drafts of her written piece before publishing it. Roffino, who is more accustomed to journalistic writing, used this opportunity to step outside her comfort zone and experiment with more critical, longer-form content. Likewise, artist Molly Dilworth had the opportunity to discuss the theoretical underpinnings of her work, and see their implications addressed in writing.
In November 2011, Bethany Ides produced a short piece of creative critical writing in response to Leila Hekmat’s Session The Four Chambered Heart. Ides' piece, which is both heavily researched and intensely personal, focused on contemporary perceptions of ambient audio, and more specifically on "hearing" silence. The final sentiment of the essay, reflecting on silence lost, is hauntingly indefinite: "Inside, it would seem, the story is still so deafeningly present and yet just beyond it, moving outward in radial waves, there are other stories, other chatter, other husbands and wives. And still beyond that - somehow, somewhere - there is silence. I can hear it."
In between Sessions, Recess hosts performances and event series at our main Soho space. Through these, Recess supports contemporary artists, encourages civic engagement among artists and the local community, and advances an inclusive cultural network. These shorter programs allow us to serve new artists and audiences while presenting new work that compliments the durational, process-based Sessions. These projects are experimental in nature; past participant Daniel Turner called these events "dream projects" that would never happen anywhere else.
Summer Puzzle (The Internal Return of the Grievous Angel)
The artist Joey Frank showed three large puzzle paintings and a press button jukebox.
The Supper Club
A performance series led by artist Elia Alba and launched in 2012, The Supper Club explored the roles of 50 leading contemporary artists of color. The project began as a series of private dinners, held at discrete venues in New York City. These dinners were “hosted” by performance artist Wanda Ortiz (aka Chuleta). Participants were curated with a total of 12-15 artists per dinner. Chuleta steered conversations and fueled discussion during the meal, which featured cross-generation artists at different stages in their careers. These conversations were documented and recorded, and portions will be transcribed and published (at discretion of the artist) in a final public platform. Participants include LaToya Ruby Frazier, Irvin Morazan, Michlaene Thomas, Simone Leigh, Lorraine O'Grady, Saya Woolfalk, Clifford Owens, Kalup Linzy, Shinique Smith, Nicholas Dumit Estevez, Dawit Petros, Derrick Adams, Michael Paul Britto, and many more.
Be Black Baby
Recess organized and produced Be Black Baby, along with Simone Leigh, series founder and curator. For each iteration, Leigh selected a co-curator. Recess hosted the inaugural Be Black Baby on March 13, 2010. This first evening of performance responded to Brian DePalma's satirical film "Hi Mom" (1970). From here, events in the series continued to problematize conventions of cultural politics including racial and queer identity. Be Black Baby extended from Recess's mission to highlight the path from idea to fruition. Celebrating the confident individual voice and body, the series took on a question that may not find an immediate answer. Each event's playful yet rigorous intellectual undertaking concluded with a dance party.
Known as "a curious confluence of constituents," Re:S introduced unexpected creative players into experimental avant-garde projects in an unexpected commercial setting. Co-organized with curator and scholar Howie Chen, the series was presented in conjunction with Grand Life Hotels. Throughout the series, Cory Archangel presented audio-visuals with the concept-band Title TK, Jason Kakoyiannis and Issac Sinclair offered scent lecture and perfuming demonstrations, and poet and Ubu-Web founding editor Kenny Goldsmith gave a reading.
Here She Comes: Julia Sherman
Julia Sherman presented research in the form of photographs, videos, drawings performance, and remnants. These artifacts and new works resurfaced and continued conversations that began at the 1968 Miss America Beauty Pageant and the Women’s Liberation intervention that occurred during the ceremony. Sherman’s primary sources became raw material for inciting contemporary reflection on a shared history. Here, the events surrounding the 1968 Miss America Pageant were abstracted and collaged, misinterpreted and re-imagined. These composite gestures asked the viewer to consider how this historicized, yet little known, narrative of the Women’s Liberation Movement as well as the history of the pageant, continue to be relevant as we look to define contemporary forms of resistance and appropriation. Sherman initiated conversations with several 1968 Miss America candidates, collecting details about their talent show performances, recollections of the event, and their contemporary views on beauty pageants and the 1968 intervention. Her findings blurred a seemingly distinct social picket line, complicating notions of The Beauty Queen and The Activist alike. Julia Sherman employed unwieldy and untraditional research methods, feminist theory, and her own personal anxieties to create a view of the contemporary and historicized beauty queen through the soft focus of forgotten resistance.
Recess partners with organizations nationally and internationally to produce programs, classes, and workshops that embrace experimentation and support the rigorous process of the contemporary artist. Often, these Interventions and collaborations serve to infuse a more established model with emerging, risk-taking content.
Past Interventions and collaborations include:
Print Editions with Brand X Editions; Molly Surno: We of Me presented at BAM with BAM Visual Art; Liz Magic Laser: Bystander at The Kitchen; Center for Experimental Lectures: Christoph Cox and Sergei Tcherepnin; Still Moving at The James Hotel; Resource Room at Recess in partnership with n+1, Parkett, Primary Information, and Reanimation Library; Recess at The Museum of Modern Art’s Poprally; Pavilion presented at Kunsthaus Dresden; Dark Knights of the Universe in collaboration with The Public School New York; After School Special in collaboration with The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Regent Family Residence; and Juanli Carrión in collaboration with Abrons Art Center and Artium.
Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.
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Your support at every level is crucial to our success! $25: Fund a year’s worth of image and video hosting online $150: Produce the post cards advertising our next event $500: Support two artists with an honorarium $1000: Keep us warm all winter long $10,000: Fund an entire two-month long Session (space, materials, support, etc.) $25,000: Provide the materials for a year’s worth of artists’ projects $_______: We’re grateful for any amount that fits your budget Email to tell us how you’d like us to use your donation: • Our signature program, Session • Operations costs • Public performances & events • Where it’s needed We appreciate your continued support! Recess is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. On behalf of the artists, board and staff at Recess, thank you.
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.
Allison Freedman Weisberg
Allison Freedman Weisberg grew up in Palisades, New York and has been living in New
York City since 2005. She received a BA with honors from Wesleyan University, where
she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and she earned an MA with honors in Visual Culture
from New York University. Before founding Recess, she worked in the Education
Department at the Museum of Modern Art and then became Senior Coordinator of Youth
and Community Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work uniting
artists and audiences in New York's principal art museums lead her to start Recess in
2009, where she continues to challenge traditional contexts for art making and its
reception. She has given lectures on contemporary artists and alternative art spaces at
venues such as Exit Art, Brooklyn College, and the New Museum. As an artist, educator,
and cultural producer, Allison enjoys a unique personal connection to the contemporary
arts that informs every aspect of her practice as Executive Director of Recess.
Malia F Simonds
Term: Dec 2015 -
GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization
Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?
Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?
Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?
Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?
Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?