This space was originally a Buick dealership. Its vastness was part of a strategy for selling eighteen-foot-long Roadmaster Rivieras at a time when the interstate was synonymous with the American dream. The trick today is how to repurpose that structural optimism—the sense of limitless possibility—to transcend the malevolent presumptions that accompanied manifest destiny. Our hope for Assembly is to generate a different kind of aspiration by expanding civic space in the service of the community.
In this first, year-long coming together, the abundance of space here is applied to countering one of the art world’s worst secrets. There is an enormous glut of unused artworks out there stuck in suspended animation. Assembly 1: Unstored was conceived as an alternative—albeit still a temporary one—to warehousing, which is just about the worst fate that can befall an artwork. Is a sculpture reduced to an unrealizable value proposition, with no prospect of a transformable viewer, even an artwork? That is a question that museums mostly can’t answer, because it is a problem they were unintentionally designed to perpetuate.
To make the exhibition we asked a group of artists from Mexico and based in Mexico, as well as a couple of other friends, if they would lend us something beloved that was languishing in limbo. Initially there was no thematic intent beyond setting some great things free for a while. “Give us your retired, your ignored, your stashed-away masses yearning to be seen…,” or something like that. But as tends to happen, even in the absence of active design, when these wonderful, complex things get together, meaning has an opportunity to assemble itself.
Of course a short-term furlow for a handful of works can’t fix anything. But it is satisfying to give these articulate arguments for empathy, in the form of objects that don’t really want to be products, a glimpse of sunlight and the chance to stretch their legs.
Thank you to the artists and galleries who provided work and support to make this exhibition possible, and to Alberto Rios de la Rosa.