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In Williamsburg
Regine Debatty, 4 May 09

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Yesterday i've determinedly coughed my way to Brooklyn and been rewarded by two fantastic exhibitions. The first one, and probably the most photogenic, is Casual Conversations in Brooklyn at Black & White Project Space.

The work, created by Alina & Jeff Bliumis, is an anthropological inquiry into Brooklyn's immigrant communities. Confronted by a radically different reality these new Americans are bound together by pursuing their American dreams and searching for new identities reflective of their new lives. How does one retain cultural roots while creating a new identity?

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American Dream, St. Petersburg bookstore, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, July 27, 2007 and December 28, 2007

The indoor section of Casual Conversations in Brooklyn project consists of a series of sculptural objects, photographs, video and sound work inspired by public dialogues conducted by the artists in the Brighton Beach community of Brooklyn. For one of these artistic interventions, the duo (who come from Belarus and Moldova) asked people shopping in a Russian-language bookstore to share their American Dream by writing it with a magic marker on a "thought bubble". They photographed their answers.

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One of these pictures was turned into a huge graffiti made in astroturf that graces the courtyard of the gallery. The artists chose to use artificial grass as a metaphor for "greener pastures," the search for which entices people to migrate.

A few steps away, Pierogi Gallery has dedicated a show to Ward Shelley's time-line drawings: Who Invented the Avant-Garde - and other half-truths. The paintings are aesthetically gripping, i just wish i knew American art history better to be able to fully appreciate their content.

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Autonomous Art, ver. 1, 2007-09

Among the paintings exhibited: The eponymous artwork in the show explores and interprets the history of the Avant Garde. Downtown Body dissects 100 years of art and bohemianism in downtown New York. In addition to the visual arts, lines trace theater, music, and literature, graphically depicting the Rise of the Scene and the explosion of interdisciplinary work as a network of intersecting veins and organs. Matrilineage is a celebration of American woman painters.

Casual Conversations in Brooklyn closes on June 14 and Who Invented the Avant Garde (and other half-truths) ends on May 17, 2009.

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