“Human beings have bodies. These bodies have physical boundaries: skin, bones, flesh. But there are other sorts of boundaries, harder to define. We experience these boundaries when a stranger stands just a little too close and we have the sudden urge to back up half a step. Or we’re sitting near an old friend who suddenly grabs our hand and squeezes, re-forging an intimacy deeper than any words could capture. Closeness, distance, contact, separation, intimacy, these are the orienting concepts for Personal Space, an exciting new show opening at Public Pool on March 11th, 2017. “– Morgan Meiss for Grand Circus Magazine.
Detroit’s Grand Circus Magazine is an elegantly styled biannual print publication. The magazine’s editor Alex Trajkovski simply describes his creation as “an ambitious magazine of culture and urbanism in Detroit.” Dedicated to exploring ways in which Detroiters relate to the built environment, Grand Circus Magazine provides local, national and global audiences with a glimpse into Detroit life by way of candid interviews, captivating photos, informative articles, and palpable storytelling.
In parallel to the magazine’s focus, Personal Space aims to connect individuals with the world they experience IRL. Trajkovski elaborates on this congruency stating, “Personal Space encapsulates the mission of Grand Circus Magazine — it’s about how we relate to the city around us; with each successive issue, we’re really honing in on that. “ The ascending magazine has dedicated a section of its upcoming Spring 2017 issue to coverage of the Personal Space exhibition, ensuring that this one of a kind group show can be both experienced in person and immortalized on paper.
Independent curator Isabella Achenbach has toiled for over a year in collaboration with Trajkovski to bring this event to life. As Achenbach explains, “Anyone can throw a show together in one month and have it stand on its own. But it takes time and the help of many good editors and collaborators to make something really good, which I think we’ve done here.” Throughout the meticulous development of the event, Achenbach and Trajkovski have worked closely to ensure that this event would be a unique and interactive show for its attendees. “Art is a hugely powerful social tool because it forces people to stop, listen, observe, and actually spend a moment thinking about what’s being presented. In Personal Space, this is done in a variety of ways—both playfully and seriously. Everyone’s relationship with their own personal space and their understanding of others’ is going to be different, and I think the variety of works in the show reflects that and allows the viewers to perhaps step outside of their own personal bubbles and try to understand someone else’s.” Achenbach remarks. She continues, “Alex [Trajkovski] has been a huge contributor to this whole show. I approached him with this project back in January of 2016 and he was game from the get-go. He’s been there with a supportive, yet critical eye. That’s irreplaceable.” The curator also gives credit to Chicago’s OTHER Studio and Hamtramck’s Public Pool for helping make this event possible.
Reflecting on her variety of experiences in Michigan’s art world, Achenbach notes that working with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, University of Michigan Museum of Art and her own Girl Girl Girl gallery have brought her to this pinnacle in her career as a curator thus far.
“I’m a young curator, so everything that I have done with MOCAD, UMMA, and Girl Girl Girl gallery has been hugely informative in my process. As an exhibitions assistant at UMMA I’ve learned about handling fine art and what a good exhibition proposal looks like. I’ve learned about the professional art world in general—how to work with galleries, artist studios and copyright managers. Frankly, I’ve learned the power of a good email, or, this is gonna sound crazy, a phone call. MOCAD’s the same, I’ve gotten to partake in a couple rounds of exhibitions there and just seeing and learning from the professionals on staff, and especially Jens Hoffman, the curator at large, is hugely inspiring. When I was running Girl Girl Girl Gallery last summer with my two partners I think that was the most connected I’ve ever been to the local art scene. I spent a lot of energy during that time trying to meet and learn from local artists and organizers that I thought were interesting and were making impactful work.”
Isabella Achenbach is anticipating a positive public reaction to the exhibition opening. The night is laced with interactive installations, both 2 and 3 dimensional works, and even an exclusive opening night performance by artist Russ Orlando. Achenbach’s intuition has guided the exhibition and its nuances, giving attendees a peek into her curatorial perspective from the physical setup of the space, to the artists selected for the exhibition. “I think people who know nothing about me or this project will be able to tell that the curator of Personal Space really cares a lot about the artists involved and the work they’ve put forth. I like having wall texts, nothing crazy wordy, but something to actually connect the viewer with the work. I don’t know why I consistently see shows that don’t even have the artist’s names available, or at least not easily available. That stuff matters a lot to me, and, in my opinion, makes for a better and more accessible show. “As collaborator Trajkovski comments, “It’s been a ton of fun working together to create something meaningful. Her curatorial approach is going to set this apart, for sure. I think her work in how it engages the viewer is the most impressive thing about it.”
Artists Bryan Corley, Cupetelli & Mendoza, Olayami Dabls, Alexandre da Veiga, Jessica Frelinghuysen, Bree Gant, Chido Johnson, Scott Northrup, Russ Orlando, Senghor Reid, Chloe Sells, Clinton Snider, Corine Vermeulen, Carl Wilson, and Shirley Woodson will present work in the Personal Space exhibition. In discussing strategic selection of artists Achenbach remarks, “I’ve been scouting artists for the past year, but I wish I had had more time! I definitely was looking for artists who are completely committed to their work. Everyone in the show is a full-time artist, even if they’re working another full-time job. Of course there were tons of artists that I was interested in showing, but ultimately the ones that ended up in Personal Space are here because their work had something to say about the topic and honestly just made me really excited. That’s an amazing feeling, especially when the work that I’m doing excites the artist as well!” Achenbach says that the show will provide the audience with an opportunity to experience phenomenal work while engaging with the show’s artists and fellow attendees.
Personal Space opens from 7-11pm on March 11th at Public Pool: 3309 Caniff Avenue Hamtramck, MI 48212 and will remain visible every Saturday from 1-6pm through April 22. Don’t miss your chance to explore and push boundaries with this original and one of a kind exhibition. RSVP here.
Words by Hailey Dukes. New kid on the block + sponge for all things Detroit. Student to this earth and the people, places, and things on it. Walking an unceasing journey to observe, feel, analyze, understand. Inspire me! Follow Hailey on IG @wolf___hailey // Twitter @heyygirllhai.