ONLY CONNECT takes place at the following location:
731 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022
Hours: ONLY CONNECT at Bloomberg is viewable by appointment only.
Please contact Jessica Maturo at 212-219-0473 ext. 21
or email info@artingeneral for information
"You're either in front of a Bloomberg or behind," reads the webpage advertising Bloomberg's Professional service, a platform that purports to provide information on, well, everything. This I discover while trying to make sense of a trip to Bloomberg's Midtown headquarters. I had ostensibly gone there to look at the five pieces imported by Art in General for the exhibition Only Connect, but spent most of my tour marveling at the overwhelming social engineering project that is the company, Cesar Pelli's steel envelope and its interior designed by Studios Architecture and Pentagram.
It is not that I admired the Bloomberg headquarters or its elegant permanent collection of Julian Opies and Paul Morrisons more than the temporary, fragile assemblage of Larry Bamburg, Tom Kotik and Heather Rowe. It's not that I enjoyed looking out the building's clean glass skin more than I enjoyed looking through the insidiously situated window-works of Mafalda Santos or Patrick Tuttofuoco. In fact, I find the fear of being "behind" quite old-fashioned and embarrassing: I emphatically believe that one does not become more social because of an architect's plan, one does not become more informed nor certainly more intelligent because of a supersaturated system of fact generation, and one is not more advanced - aesthetically or otherwise - because one has stepped into the set of Minority Report.
It is this sensibility that I imagine I share with the artists whose work was chosen by curator Cecelia Alemani to co-habitate with Bloomberg's 5000 employees. The work doesn't want to be there, and neither did I, even after I was invited twice to partake of free food in the company's communal pantries. Rowe's Three Flying Buttresses for a Wall quite literally hides behind a conference room, and Kotik's relatively silent sound sculpture stands alone in front of a wall of elevators that, I was told, are only used by people who require special access to the floor (which is to say, those with disabilities, for the most part). Meanwhile, Santos' Insider Trading is drawn so as to be read only by those who sit inside the glass conference room on whose wall it is situated. Only Larry Bamburg's Whistlers, Chippers, Trillers: One Down braves the 6th floor atrium. It whirs and chirps at all those in its vicinity, advertising its unmonumentality like some lone human in a crowd of clones.
I can't say that I loved these artworks, but I admire their politics. In any other exhibition context, the visible clamps in Rowe's buttresses might have seemed more structurally provisional and less socio-culturally reactionary. Likewise, anywhere else, Santos' "trading" would not have really been "inside." Surrounded by countless flatscreens and an army of chipper folk in business casual, I felt some cultural kinship with these flawed pieces. They proffer their version of the memorable – the idiosyncratic instead of the spectacular – from the belly of Bloomberg, neither ahead nor behind.
Image: Larry Bamburg, Whistlers, Chippers, Trillers: One Down (2007). Courtesy the artist and Art in General.