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Tyler Myers

WSJ on Trouble Maze

By | Press

At the heart of the labyrinth, lived the Minotaur, according to Greek mythology. The half-man, half-bull creature fed on the lost souls cast into its winding paths.

No such fate awaits visitors to the maze that is the centerpiece of “You Are Here,” a conceptual art event that runs through Monday at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens. What they will find, instead, staged in the center of a 60-by-60 foot maze, is a series of musical performances.

Art in America’s Wendy Vogel on Authority Figure

By | Press

“Can I touch you?” asked a young brunette woman in a black polo shirt, taking my hand and leading me into the cavernous main space of the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens. Around us, about a dozen individuals in identical attire paired up with audience members. We made small talk for a few minutes, until she broke off the conversation. “Sorry, I have to go do something for my job,” she said, as her colleagues murmured similar statements. Suddenly, the black-shirted performers were dancing in unison before us, performing a sequence of simple, controlled movements reminiscent of the choreography in early 1990s hip-hop videos. They moved mechanically, like marionettes conducted by invisible strings.

This was the introductory sequence of Authority Figure (May 20-22), an evening-length performance at the Knockdown Center directed by Monica Mirabile and Sarah Kinlaw. The event, featuring more than one hundred and fifty performers and collaborators, spread across the 50,000-square-foot former glass factory and its industrial grounds. Conceived by Mirabile and Kinlaw as “a social psychology experiment that uses choreography, sound and installation to elicit emotional response from the audience,” the performance comprised fourteen different vignettes on the themes of obedient relationships, from the familial to the pedagogical to the political. One point of departure was the Milgram experiments of the 1960s, wherein participants administered what they thought were life-threatening electrical shocks to actors when prodded by an authority figure. Another was the continued and escalating violence against racial and sexual minorities.

New York Times’ Roberta Smith on the changing NYC arts landscape

By | Press

THE KNOCKDOWN CENTER This refurbished 19th-century brick factory compound at 52-19 Flushing Avenue (at 54th Street) in Maspeth, Queens, initially produced glass and then prefab, or knockdown, doors. Now, four years old, it is its own kind of strange hybrid. Overseen by the artists Michael Merck and Tyler Myers, it survives by renting parts of its 60,000 square feet for weddings, performances and other events. But along with Vanessa Thill, the two also oversee noncommercial art exhibitions. The best of the three current shows is “Transactions,” organized by Carolina Wheat and Liz Nielsen, who run Elijah Wheat Showroom, a small Bushwick space. They invited artists to contribute a favorite object and explain its importance. Nearly two dozen responded, including Carol Bove, Lisa Yuskavage and Yevgeniya Baras, and their often telling selections hang above little rugs and pillows that invite intimate contemplation. One of the most tangible effects of this barely-visible show is the hand-drawn map by Mr. Merck. In the courtyard, the capable sculptures and paintings of John Furgason, Serban Ionescu and Carlos Little all gain from being displayed in a romantic ruined boiler. A two-person show introduces the work of Anna Mikhailovskaia, a promising young Brooklyn sculptor, and John Schacht(1938-2009), a little-known Chicagoan, whose watercolor-gouaches of patterned biomorphic forms expand the legacy of the Hairy Who. The Knockdown Center brims with unrealized potential. It already has a restaurant.

New York Mag’s Jerry Saltz on Knockdown Center

By | Press

I don’t think I’ve ever had my breath taken away in New York the way I did when I first set eyes on the not-for-profit artist-run operation in Brooklyn known as Knockdown Center. Not only did I not feel like I was in New York, I remembered the jealousy I always feel when I’m in Berlin or Los Angeles, walking in off some street through an unassuming doorway to a hidden huge courtyard and a magical vast building for art. I was staggered at what I saw, and then starting seeing, as possible art-world futures. New York must have a lot of derelict industrial spaces like this, in Maspeth and elsewhere, I thought. It was the most hopeful real-estate moment I’ve had in New York since the days of the East Village in the early 1980s (or maybe since galleries settled Chelsea in the 1990s). Somehow the man who saved Knockdown Center from developers coveting the site found a way to transform this magnificent 50,000-square-foot former door factory into a “radically cross-disciplinary” space devoted to “diverse formats, nourishing experimental impulses, questioning traditional notions of authorship, cultural production, and reception.” The space also “accepts proposals” for shows. You can propose something. I met an artist who did and the show is there now.

The Brooklyn Rail on Anna Mikhailovskaia and John Schacht

By | Press

A serious conversation on the topic of play appears to be at work in the two-person exhibition, Anna Mikhailovskaia and John Schacht, currently on view at the Knockdown Center. With very few right angles or orderly readings available, the show calls into question larger assumptions about the association of irresponsibility with playfulness, the assumed randomness of organic forms, and predilections toward linear thought.

Vice Thump on Authority Figure

By | Press

“What’s in the bottle?” asked a security guard suspiciously as he patted down my pockets for drugs or weapons, taking a sniff of my bottle of flavored seltzer. “Um, water,” I replied. Getting interrogated by security wasn’t part of the show, but it was a fitting start to “Authority Figure,” Monica Mirabile and Sarah Kinlaw’s supremely ambitious performance art piece about obedience and authority, which took place on May 20-22.

QNS on the Opening of the Ready Room

By | Press

The Knockdown Center, Maspeth’s art and events venue located in a century-old factory building, has unveiled its two newest additions, an event bar and the Ready Room bar and dining area.

The event bar will focus on serving visitors of their various art shows and events that take place throughout the year, while the Ready Room will have a small bar and dining area where visitors who may not want to take part in the events going on can relax and have a good time.

New York Times on Alison O’Daniel’s Deaf Club

By | Press

At its best, punk rock relies on an admixture of velocity, attitude and volume — which is exactly what made last night’s Deaf Club event a smash success. The show, held at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens, a former door factory turned interdisciplinary arts space, was curated by the Los Angeles-based artist Alison O’Daniel who, herself, is hard of hearing. The event was a live extension of O’Daniel’s “The Tuba Thieves” (currently a part of her “Room Tone” exhibition) — a film that explores the events surrounding an unlikely series of tuba thefts in Los Angeles schools.

The New York Times on West Side Story

By | Press

A sharp winter sun filtered into the Knockdown Center, a former factory turned art space in Maspeth, Queens, on a recent afternoon as Skylar Astin and Morgan Hernandez enacted the bridal shop mock-wedding scene from “West Side Story.”

“Make of our hands one hand,” the young actors sang as they stood on the narrow stage. In “West Side Story,” with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “One Hand, One Heart” is a hymnlike duet of arresting tenderness, an expression of a hope that will ultimately be dashed by racial tension and cultural mistrust. But as Mr. Astin (“Pitch Perfect”) and Ms. Hernandez (a freshman at the Boston Conservatory) continued to hold hands, dozens of teenagers solemnly flooded the stage. As they joined in, singing “Make of our hearts one heart,” what had begun as a duet about a personal connection became a choral affirmation of collective healing.

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