New York’s Red Bull Studios has mounted a number of eye-catching and buzzed about exhibitions over the past three years. Now the energy drink company is doubling down on its commitment to the arts with the newly re-christened Red Bull Arts New York.
Under its new name, and with former studio manager Max Wolf at the helm as chief curator, the initiative will continue to collaborate with US-based museums, institutions, and arts-focused non-profits. But Wolf intends to grow the program to build more international relationships in 2017.
Red Bull is “redefining the role of corporate patronage in the arts,” Wolf told artnet News in a recent phone interview. “It’s a model that doesn’t fly in the face of traditional galleries or museums, but complements an already amazing landscape of contemporary arts support in the city and around the world.”
Coming up in February is “The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment,” the latest iteration of contemporary art star Bjarne Melgaard‘s ongoing project, the first show under the new Red Bull Arts moniker. It is being produced in collaboration with creative director Babak Radboy, and will feature a presentation of the company’s clothing line.
Wolf notes cheekily that show will explore concepts of fashion including “the vicious cycle of retail therapy. It’s a way to critique yet exploit this notion of fashion and accumulation and consumption,” he says, adding that it’s “part exhibition and part conceptual programming.”
Red Bull’s art program was founded in 2013 in space shared with their music initiative, a recording studio and broadcast center created for Red Bull Music. The program devotes curatorial and production support for the presentation of new work, including artist fees, marketing, as well as the two-level, 12,000-square foot exhibition space in Chelsea, where it will remain under its new label.
Among notable past exhibitions (2014) was “DISown-Not for Everyone,” curated by DIS collective and its associate, Agatha Wara, that “addressed the notion of artists as brands,” says Wolf. It included a number of hip contemporary artists including Lizzie Fitch, Ryan Trecartin, Amalia Ulman, Melgaard, Simon Fujiwara, Antoine Catala, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Jon Rafman.
Red Bull Studios was also the site of Hayden Dunham and Nicolas Lobo’s trippy show, “BIO:DIP,” which was curated by Neville Wakefield, in addition to George Henry Longly’s boundary breaking first US exhibition, “We All Love Your Life.”
“We’re kind of testing the model of what an exhibition is,” says Wolf. “Unlike working in a commercial gallery, we can really encourage artists to push their own practice, challenge their own notions and really have ambitious ideas. Under the notion that these works don’t have to be sold, it offers a place where we can really kind of toe the line about what an exhibition is.”
Wolf says he hopes the Red Bull Arts model sets an example and even sparks a trend in corporate giving. Perhaps, he says, “other corporations will find value in genuinely doing the right thing the right way and start supporting artists at a time when it’s needed more than ever.”
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