Putting the Art back into Party, NO!R NEW YORK is a partnership between Ezra Mabengeza (actor, photographer and film director), Rachel Reid Wilkie (Fashion Designer, Artist, Poet) and a growing network of collaborators hailing from all creative industries. A “nomadic one-night stand”, spawned from NO!R Edinburgh, “NO!R NEW YORK is a recurring nocturnal event fusing art, film, fashion and music.”
ALOUD. sat down with Rachel Wilkie to talk about NO!R’s upcoming anniversary show, CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE, the concept behind NO!R and why being nomadic can set the foundations of an enduring truth.
With CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE, the key factor of the show is “Our Children” being the new generation and our belief in passing on our awareness and our knowledge. The visual work is quite a provocative illustration of the deprived state of some of our children, physically or psychologically, but the accompanying words offer an extremely powerful and positive counterpoint.”
The freedom to think of each show individually is inherent to the format NO!R NEW YORK has adopted. Pop-ups are free to operate outside of the usual constraints faced by traditional Art galleries, while still being able to position a show in front of the very same audience.
“We said right from the beginning that we would never commit to a permanent space. The pure fact of having to pay a rent monthly for a stabilised space in any neighborhood in Manhattan is too damaging to the authenticity and the truth of the project.There are many great galleries that stay true to their ideals but just as in Fashion Design, trends are careering through the Art world enforcing a certain aesthetic.”
NO!R NEW YORK prides itself on its ability to take risks, make no compromise in the curatorial process and constantly seek out new talent which might be under-represented on the art circuit. With a tight and influential guest list, NO!R NEW YORK aims to place these artists in a new light, fostering opportunities and encouraging connections to be formed. New York City, like many major cities, has experienced an extreme gentrification, virtually squeezing the creative communities into the surrounding suburbs where NO!R NEW YORK is intent on finding them.
“The artists tend to be outside of Manhattan because very few people can actually afford to be here. The slightly segregated neighborhoods can, in one way, enlighten them within their particular communities but it almost creates a mini security net which they may not be breaking out of and really hitting the prominent influential art scene that is still governed by Manhattan. We want NO!R events to take place primarely in different areas of Manhattan so we can create an exposure to these 100% New York artists who are not getting it because they are just not local enough to the scene.”
In another twist on the way traditional galleries operate, the element of surprise that is created around the shows is essential to defining NO!R NEW YORK events. Indeed, until a few days before the show, very little is known about the event itself. Only the title is openly promoted, shrouding the artists and location, date and time, under a veil of secrecy.
“It tends to work against the regular way of putting on an art show but we believe that to pre-advertise, publicize the artists and show the show before it has even happened, all takes away from the essence of the live event. We want to encourage the creative community to be present and experience it. After the event, everything goes online but the beauty of the Art is to be there and experience the live event. That’s the most important thing for us.”
With each show, NO!R NEW YORK comes closer to defining its own identity, infused over time with the intent and expression of every person who has and is yet to collaborate. While Rachel and Ezra hope to see NO!R NEW YORK establish itself as a trusted destination to find up-and-coming artists in NYC, they are equally interested in seeing it evolve, faithful to an underlying truth, unique in its manifestation.
“We are organically formulating each show, letting the mood of the times guide us, beyond calculation. At the same time, I do believe that our selection of artwork, over a period of time, will reveal that a certain thread does exist from one show to the next. As NO!R expands to different cities and different countries, each NO!R will take on its own slight twist. NO!R should embrace the city in which it is being expressed and the people who are putting that energy into it.
Through NO!R, we are representing a collective truth which needs to come above the name, above the image. I’m not married to the idea of NO!R being a brand, I’m married to the idea that NO!R is a collective truth created from the combination of heart-felt expressions. I believe we will hold true to that.”
Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with some of NO!R NEW YORK top artists following the show…
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