Base 12: Don't Call It a Comeback
Caslon Bevington, Ryan Bock, Morell Cutler, Jay “The Love Child” Gittens, Alana Dee Haynes, Kolter “Senor Melon” Hodgson, Charlie Hudson, Julia Powers, James Reyes, James Rubio, Bruno Smith, & Sei Smith
March 3, 2020 - April 3, 2020
Ki Smith Gallery is thrilled to announce Base 12: Don’t Call It a Comeback, an exhibition of works by the artists of Apostrophe NYC’s Base 12 project: Caslon Bevington, Ryan Bock, Morell Cutler, Jay “The Love Child” Gittens, Alana Dee Haynes, Kolter “Senor Melon” Hodgson, Charlie Hudson, Julia Powers, James Reyes, James Rubio, Bruno Smith, and Sei Smith.
Though often mischaracterized as a collective, Base 12 was a curatorial experiment fixated upon the shifting reception of art exhibited in nontraditional settings or through unorthodox means. How do you engage with a painting hung on the wall of a subway station? What happens when an exhibition is staged at one of the most celebrated museums in New York City without the museum’s consent?
Brothers Ki and Sei Smith founded Apostrophe NYC in 2012. It was an experimental art gallery by day and an underground club from dusk ‘til dawn. Upon the closure of their Brooklyn brick-and-mortar, the Smiths began a series of pop-up exhibitions in unconventional locations around the City, leading to the creation of Base 12 in 2015.
The following spring, the twelve artists staged their inaugural group show as a guerrilla pop-up at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Despite carefully sidestepping vandalism laws by using a suction cup hanging system, the exhibition hung for forty minutes before museum security confiscated the works and asked the group to leave. Upon departure, they accepted a lifetime ban from the institution in exchange for the return of the seized paintings. This guerrilla exhibition, and those that followed at MoMA PS1 and the Met Breuer, was indicative of Base 12’s larger project: to express reverence for the art world while cleverly underscoring the absurdity of its tradition and structure.
So what was Base 12? Nobody can really say, but it evolved into a vibrant community that celebrated creative expression and critical thought, centered around close proximity and hyperproductivity. Although their respective mediums, values, and approaches were as varied as can be, the restrictions posed by the Smith brothers challenged them to adapt their practices to, for example, a two-by-three-inch painting to be viewed through binoculars.
Now, five years after its conception, the artists of Base 12 have come together once more for their first exhibition in three years. Though their studios no longer share walls, they continue to collaborate and support one another both professionally and otherwise. Along with the twelve original works from the Whitney pop-up, this exhibition will include a selection of new pieces from the artists’ studios. We warmly invite you to the opening reception of Base 12: Don’t Call It a Comeback, on March 14th from 6:00–10:00 p.m. at 712 W 125th street.