The curators behind the Tumblr generation’s favourite gallery share their tips for converting online creativity to an inclusive IRL community
After just under two years of opening as an IRL space in Brooklyn, Alt Space have fast secured their impactful place in the New York art world. With just under two years of opening as an IRL space in Brooklyn and transitioning from blog to paper zine to fully fledged gallery and art space, at just toddler age the team have facilitated Graci Miceli’s first Art Baby Gallery physical show, thrown guerilla fashion presentations as a backlash to commercial fashion week, and provided countless opportunities for underrepresented voices dominating the online scene but unable to break the IRL wall due to the often stagnant superiority of the mainstream art world.
Now arguably at the top of the game, the curators behind Alt Space/Citizen (including Miceli now on board as permanent curator), have gone and done what few dare to do: pack up shop and start afresh. Defying the rule ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, and cashing in their Bushwick-based storefront for an old school bus, the team have hit the road, taking the Alt experience on tour across eight states and proving that their community isn’t restricted to a small corner of Brooklyn – but instead spans a general consensus felt by many emerging artists across the world.
With the tour in full swing, we caught up with co-founder Phil Gomez on how to challenge the IRL art scene and support fledgling creatives all while staying truthful to a DIY, new-age punk ethos.
FIND YOUR VOICE
“Alt Citizen started in 2011 as a blog in efforts to highlight the thriving music, culture, and art scene in Brooklyn. Realising the lack of content highlighting local underdogs, and by highlighting artists and movements we are influenced and inspired by, we created a platform for open conversation between artists and fans. It was in 2014 during the launch of the first issue of the zine that we realised the impact and potential that we could have in our community.”
RECOGNISE YOUR STRENGTHS
“In an effort to offer a tangible experience and keepsake for readers. we launched Alt Citizen Issue #1 in Spring 2014; a pocket-size zine that featured artist interviews, live show reviews, musings, and editorials. To celebrate the release, we curated a music showcase in Brooklyn that included a line-up of internet sensations, Anamanaguchi and Awkwafina, all of whom were influential within their respected genres but limited to few IRL opportunities. The internet in a way gave the artist back the power to create and showcase new forms of art, we hope that Alt Space is doing the same IRL. This is why we feel an open dialogue is so important; we want to bridge the internet and interpersonal relationships into one space.”
“We are not deliberately rejecting the stereotype of the art world, we just want to shine a light on artists and mediums that might be too progressive for the mainstream art industry”– Phil Gomez
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
“In 2015, Alt Space; the spatial manifestation of Alt Citizen, was born. Staying true to the Alt Citizen philosophy, the core concept behind Alt Space was to create a space that materialises our years of trusted curation and fosters collaboration and camaraderie within artist communities. : it was all very serendipitous, Alt Citizen editor in chief Nasa stumbled upon the building while walking in her neighbourhood. the space would ultimately serve as Alt Citizen's headquarters with a small space to display art and sell a small selection of music, zines and band merch. We did not anticipate becoming the safe space for internet artist to make Alt Space their IRL home. Everything in the shop has been hand-picked because we love it and feel inspired by it in one way or the other. I don’t think that many shops can say that about every single item they sell. It’s in the shop because we feel that it needs to be displayed and shared.”
FOSTER THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE
“Realising that our community was one formed online with a desperate need for IRL representation, Alt Space quickly became a creative haven for artists and creative influencers, mobilising our shop into a community inspired by performance and people that use style as a form of self-expression. Because of our strong online community and also being influenced by the many great bands that have gone on tour we decided to bring the Alt Space experience to 8 different states. We are not deliberately rejecting the stereotype of the art world, we just want to shine a light on artists and mediums that might be too progressive for the mainstream art industry.”