Triple Candie is somewhere in Philadelphia. In a residential neighborhood. Reincarnating.
We've always maintained a location in the shadows. From 2001 to 2010, we were in Harlem, far from New York City's then burgeoning art neighborhoods -- first Chelsea, then the Lower EastSide. Our location initially reflected our desire to work in a community under-served by the visual arts. But over time, the neighborhood served a more symbolic purpose.
2008 - 2010
For two yeas, Triple Candie was located in a storefront on a residential blockt at 500 West 148th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues. The gallery was within 5 blocks from the Hispanic Society, the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Dance Theater of Harlem, and 8 blocks from City College. Demographically, the block had been historically African American, though following 9/11, the new residents were increasingly of Domenican and Mexican descent. However, our landlord was from India; our super from Belize; and the guys who ran the bodega next door were from Yemen. It was heaven.
Triple Candie was located in a ground-floor warehouse space in a former brewery at 461 West 126th Street. The gallery was in walking distance of the Studio Museum of Art, the Project (an art gallery run by Christian Haye that launched the careers of Julie Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer, and many others), and Columbia University's MFA Program studios. The immediate neighborhood belonged to neither Central nor West Harlem. The block consisted of abandoned warehouses, car repair shops, and a handful of city-subsidized apartment buildings. La Granja, a live poultry market, was directly across the street. The warehouse was in a demographic void. Two blocks east was Central Harlem, which was, at the time, over 90% African and African American. To blocks to the west and north was West Harlem, which was primarily Domenican. Two blocks south was Columbia University.
Triple Candie is a place-based, research-oriented gallery that produces exhibitions about art but largely devoid of it. A typical exhibition consists of reproductions, surrogates, models, stage-sets, or common objects, displayed using a combination of rhetorical devices borrowed from art & anthropology museums (e.g. wall-labels or educational wall-texts), flea markets (tables, glass-topped cases), or community art galleries (free-standing wall-panels). When a show is de-installed, the materials are recycled for future use or discarded.
Given their ephemeral nature, frequent use of historical subjects, and lack of any obvious artist-agent, Triple Candie's exhibitions have been referred to as "curatorial performances". Journalism, however, not theater, seems to be a greater influence, at least recently: issues of reproduction, permission, misrepresentation, anonymous sourcing, and narrative construction are all fundamental to Triple Candie shows.
Many of Triple Candie's exhibitions would be difficult, if not impossible, to show in any other context, be it a museum, small nonprofit, or commercial gallery. First, there is the obvious issue of the lack of "original" artworks. Second, they are generally, though not exclusively, realized without the involvement of artists. Third, because the shows are often "critical" in nature, they are sometimes interpretated as being disrespectful of artists or other arts institutions. Finally, nearly all of Triple Candie's shows are site-specific -- they are conceived to be seen and understood in relationship to their context: an "art gallery" in Harlem.
In addition to its ongoing exhibition programming, Triple Candie maintains a permanent collection of more than 1,200 high-quality art reproductions (El museo de reproducciones fotograficas) that it makes available for short-term loans, and maintains a living archive on the art & life of artist-curator-writer Matthew Higgs.
Triple Candie does not view itself as an artist- or curatorial-collective. Though strategies of institutional critique are often employed, the gallery sees itself as an institution OF critique instead, wherein the critical strategies employed operate at an institutional, rather than a curatorial, level.