475 Tenth Avenue (corner of Thirty-sixth Street)
New York, NY 10018
Tel.: (212) 966-7745
Fax: (212) 925-2928
Audrey Christensen, Director of Archives and New Media
Hours open to the public
Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
History of the Institution
Exit Art was founded in 1982 by artist Papo Colo and curator Jeanette Ingberman during the alternative space movement. From the start, its founders recognized a lack of exposure for artists whose work challenged social, political, sexual, or aesthetic norms and raised difficult questions of race, ethnicity, gender and equality. In its first decade Exit Art presented a series of mid-career retrospectives with catalogues that helped to bring wide public attention to artists now firmly established, including Juan Sanchez and Cecilia Vicuña.
After moving in 1992, Exit Art identified the emergence of a generation of young artists with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and aesthetics and expanded its curatorial model to become an incubator for the careers of these emerging artists. One important project was 1992's Fever, named one of the ten most significant shows of the decade by Newsweek's Peter Plagens in 2000.
In 2000, Exit Art felt the necessity to connect beyond the art world and inaugurated a series of thematic exhibitions exploring critical issues in contemporary society. The first exhibition in this series was Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution (2000), which provoked widespread discussion about genetic research and bioengineering. Reactions (2002) presented over 2,500 responses to how 9/11 changed public and private behavior, and was acquired by the Library of Congress for its American Memory project.
One of Exit Art's curatorial models since moving to Hell's Kitchen in 2002 has been conceptplus, which began with an idea for an exhibition publicized through an international call to artists using the Internet. Exit Art has received hundreds of proposals from throughout the world, from which each exhibition is curated, broadening the group of artists into a global community and allowing for a more democratic curatorial process.
Exit Art's mission is to create and present exhibitions and programs that explore the diversity of cultures and voices that continually shape contemporary art and ideas in America. Exit Art is also committed to bringing to public attention the work of under-recognized and emerging artists experimenting with the convergence of film, video, performance art, music, design, and visual art. Exit Art's exhibitions, projects, and performances have expressed a unique creative vision that has frequently challenged traditional notions of what art is and offered new opportunities to bring together artists and the public. Over the past twenty years Exit Art has acquired a substantial international reputation for curatorial innovation, providing crucial support to artists at the beginning of their careers and anticipating the newest trends, movements, and ideas in the culture at large.
Scope and Content
The archives of Exit Art pertain mostly to the institution's operations. Primary and secondary sources include exhibition files, slides and digital images, catalogues, recordings of interviews and performances, artwork, and artist files. Included in these records is information on many Latino and Latin American artists. These records are also invaluable as sources documenting the history of one of the main alternative art spaces and centers of multiculturalism in New York and the United States.
Other outstanding sources include the personal papers of visual artist and cultural producer Papo Colo, and the administrative papers of The Cultural Space and Trickster Theater, two organizations he founded. Exit Art also has a personal notebook of poems by the deceased Nuyorican poet Miguel Piñero.
There is no formal collection policy in place. Exit Art archives its operational records. Artist files are mostly created for those who have worked with or had exhibitions at Exit Art. There are approximately 1,000 artist files all together, though the institution has showcased over 2,300 artists. Approximately 200 of the 2,300 artists who have exhibited their work at Exit Art are Latinos. In 2004 the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Exit Art a grant for the organization and digitization of its archives.
Overall holdings of archives and research material:
Approximately 300 linear feet
Overall holdings of archives and research material related to Latino art: Seventy-five linear feet
Inclusive dates of files: 1982–present
Bulk dates: 1982–present
Languages in which records are written:
Mostly in English, some correspondence in Spanish.
Personal papers of artists, critics or art historians associated with Latino art:
Twenty linear feet
Exit Art owns a folder with personal papers of the Nuyorican poet Miguel Piñeiro (1947–1988). The papers include Piñero's handwritten poetry and a notebook he wrote while imprisoned in Attica for second-degree armed robbery. These papers came to Exit Art as part of the papers of the Lower East Side artist Martin Wong, who collaborated with Piñero.
The personal papers of artist Papo Colo, co-founder and co-director of Exit Art are also housed at the institution.
Archives of institution's history and operation related to Latino art:
Seventy-five linear feet
Archives include exhibition files, artists' files and administrative files. During its first ten years Exit Art organized mostly solo shows; a few of those were devoted to Latino and Latin American artists. In 1993 Exit Art began organizing group shows. Of the 165 exhibitions/events that have taken place at Exit Art, 82 have included Latino artists. This number is continuously growing, since virtually every exhibition since 1993 includes the work of Latino and Latin American artists. What follows is a list of selected individual and group exhibitions that have included Latino and Latin American artists since the inception of Exit Art:
Illegal America (1982); Fantastic Landscape (1984); Pedro Luján (1985); Surplus Show (1985); Ringside Gallery: Cándida Alvarez (1985); Transculture/Transmedia (1986); Papo Colo: Will, Power, And Desire, 1976–1986 (1986); Immigrants & Refugees/Heroes or Villains (1987); Concrete Crisis (1987); Films With a Purpose: A Puerto Rican Experiment in Social Films (1987); Raúl Ruiz: Work for and about French TV (1987); 1988 International Forum of Super 8 (1988); Juan Sánchez: Rican Structured Convictions (1989); Cecilia Vicuña: Precarious (1989); Internal Exile: New Films and Videos from Chile (1989); Jaime Davidovich: Forces/Farces (1991); Parallel History: The Hybrid State (1991); The Hybrid State Films (1991); Speaking Tongues (1992); The Design Show: Exhibition Invitations in the U.S.A., 1940–1992 (1993); César Paternosto: Abstraction as Meaning: Painting and Sculpture (1993); Mapping Interior Spaces: Video at the Edge of the Millennium (1993); Poverty Pop: The Aesthetics of Necessity (1994); Endurance (1995); Counterculture: Alternative Information from the Underground Press to the Internet (1996); Sweat (1996); Terra-Bomba (1997); La Tradición (1997); Hybrobar (1998); Hybro Video (1998); The End (2000); THE LP SHOW (2001); Exit Biennial: The Reconstruction (2003); L Factor (2004); Praying Project (2005); Exit Biennial II: Traffic (2005); The Studio Show (2006); The Drop (2006); Wild Girls (2006).
Newsletters and magazines published in-house:
In 1992 Exit Art conceived a newsletter entitled El Primer Mundo where artists would be invited to submit letters to fictional or historical characters. This was intended to be a yearly publication. However, only one issue was published. Guillermo Gómez-Peña contributed to this issue.
In 2002 Exit Art created the online newsletter Exit Culture Online. This publication is accessible at www.exitart.org. In November of 2005 Exit Art started Exit Times, a weekly newsletter distributed by email.
Archives of manuscripts of other institutions related to Latino Art:
Eleven linear feet
These comprise five linear feet of records generated by Cultural Space, and six linear feet of records generated by the Trickster Theater.
The Cultural Space/The Laboratory was operational between 1990 and 1992. It was founded by artist Papo Colo in recognition that changing economic times demanded a new approach to servicing artists' needs. The Cultural Space was conceived as an artists' laboratory with minimum administrative staff and costs. It proposed to establish an arena in which a new understanding of American culture could be presented without the limiting labels of ethnicity, race, gender, or cultural background, presenting programs that dissolved boundaries but did not erase differences, creating bridges of understanding. The Cultural Space closed in 1992. Despite its short existence, The Cultural Space received enthusiastic notice in art journals and the press.
The Trickster Theater was begun as The First World Theater by Papo Colo in 1992. A founding principle was to enable people to work in theater who would otherwise not have the opportunity: students, visual artists from other media, and young people starting out in theater performance or technical craft. In its theatrical explorations, The First World Theater broke down barriers between media and created a theater intimately influenced by the visual arts. Clips of performances can be accessed at www.trickstertheater.org.
Recorded interviews and performances:
The audiovisual archival holdings of Exit Art include several interviews with its co-founders. The organization has also numerous audiovisual materials that have been featured in its exhibitions, as well as recordings of performances organized in conjunction with exhibitions at Exit Art. The institution holds also recorded rehearsals and performances for the Trickster Theater.
Recorded performances and audio/visual material featured in some of Exit Art's exhibitions include documentation of performances by Manuel Acevedo, Juliette López Aranda, Francisca Benítez, Papo Colo, Ximena Cuevas, Jaime Davidovich, Nicholas Dumit Estevez, Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Arnaldo Morales, Raúl Ruiz, Cecilia Vicuña, and Ricardo Zulueta. Items are in High 8, VHS, 3/4 Inch, and audiocassette formats.
Slides and photographs:
Slides: Approximately 6,000
Prints: Approximately 2,500
Transparencies: Approximately 400
The slides are mostly installation shots and shots of individual works featured in exhibitions at Exit Art. Exit Art also holds some negatives and transparencies.
Exit Art has digital images from its exhibitions since 2003, with about four shows per year. Weekend events (e.g. screenings and concerts) are also included. There are normally about fifty digital images per show, although some exhibitions have many more. In addition, some artist files contains CDs with digital images. Exit Art's website also contains multiple images by Latino and Latin American artists. Most of these images are in JPEG format.
Art objects and artifacts:
Exit Art is not a collecting institution. However, they have kept some works they helped produce or which artists donated. Latino and Latin American art works in their collection include a portfolio of prints by Juan Sánchez produced by Exit Art in 1987. Exit Art also has some posters produced by the Political Art Documentation/ Distribution (PADD) group which were featured in the 1987 exhibition Concrete Crisis. Exit Art also has video and audio art by Latino and Latin American artists. (See Recorded Interviews and Performances, Films by or about Latinos)
Finally, Exit Art offers its Benefit Print Portfolios, which it produces and sells to raise funds for the institution. Each portfolio has a print by Papo Colo. The 2004 portfolio also contains a print by Alfredo Jaar.
Exhibition catalogues published in-house that include work by Latino artists:
These include Illegal America (1982); Dirty Pictures (1982); Papo Colo: Photogenics (1983); Forbidden Films (1983), Pedro Luján (1985), Surplus Show (1985); Papo Colo: Exit in 3 (1986);Papo Colo: Will, Power and Desire (1986); Films with a Purpose: A Puerto Rican Experiment in Social Films (1987); Raúl Ruiz: Works for and About French TV (1987); 1988 International Forum of Super 8 (1988); Juan Sánchez: Rican/Structed Convictions (1989); Internal Exile: New Films and Videos from Chile (1990); and The Hybrid State, The Hybrid State Films (1991). Starting in 2005, Exit Art's publications will be either in print and/or on CD. The institution's Twenty-fifth Anniversary catalogue will be in print.
Films by or about Latinos:
Films directed by Latinos include Papo Colo's two twenty-two-minute films created for the exhibition Exit in 3. The originals belong to Colo, but Exit Art has copies.
Exhibition catalogues, books, and periodicals related to Latino art:
Exit Art has a library of 653 volumes including books, catalogues, and journals, and original press of the exhibitions they have organized. Ninety-seven of those pertain to Latin American and Latino art, literature, and politics. This number does not include small catalogs, which are usually included in the artist files. Some titles include Coco Fusco ed., Reviewing Histories: Selections from New Latin American Cinema (1987); Chon Noriega ed., The Ethnic Eye: Latino Media Arts (1996); Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands: La Frontera The New Mestiza (1987); Juan Downey of Dream into Study (1989); Miguel Piñero's La Bodega Sold Dreams (1985); Mirrors Espejos: Contemporary Mexican Artists in the United States (n.d.); Third Text: Third World Perspectives on Contemporary Art (1987);andthe serial Culture, nos. 1–19 (1987–1992).
Vertical file materials related to Latino art: artist files, brochures, pamphlets, clippings:
These are all related to artists who have been showcased at Exit Art. They include invitations, catalogues, slides, CDs, resumes, reproductions of work, press. Latin American and Latino artists in Exit Art's artist files include: Manuel Acevedo, Aziz & Cucher, Francisca Benítez, Sandra Bermúdez, Luis Camnitzer, Eduardo Cintrón, Ximena Cuevas, Jaime Davidovich, Juan Downey, Nicolás Dumit-Estevez, León Ferrari, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Nicolás Guagnini, Alfredo Jaar, Claudia Joskowicz, Pedro Luján, Gabriel Martínez, Ana Mendieta, Marta Minujín, Cildo Meireles, Arnaldo Morales, Nico y Katiuschka, Gloria Ortiz-Hernández, César Paternosto, Wanda Raimundi-Ortíz, Freddie Rodríguez, Milton Rosa-Ortíz, Juan Sánchez, Martín Sastre, Karin Schneider, Javier Téllez, Cecilia Vicuña, and Ricardo Zulueta. Exit Art does not keep unsolicited materials from artists they have not showcased.
Exit Art has recordings of the five panel discussions and one music program that were held in conjunction with the L Factor exhibition.
The programs included a panel discussion with the exhibition curators, where Rene Algeria, Papo Colo, Ed Morales, Maria-Christina Villasenor, Christian Viveros-Faune participated; a panel discussion "What's Latin About Rock and Hip Hop," with panelists: Enrique Lavin, Elizabeth Mendez-Barry, Ed Morales, Raquel Rivera, and Bryan Vargas; a performance & lecture by Nicolás Guagnini titled "Oscar de la Hoya and Tristan Tzara: The Absurdity of Latin Masculinity"; a panel discussion organized by Christian Viveros-Faune titled "Post Latino, New Latino."
The L Factor public programs also included a series of three video programs curated by Christina Villasenor; of which Exit Art has also copies. These were titled "Spanglish and Hy-Spanic," "Quien Es Mas Macho?," and "Ich Bin Ein Latino." Finally the music program “A Showcase of New Latin Music," organized by José Ayala, featured the bands PostData, Si*Se, and Zemog el Gallo Bueno. These items are recorded in MiniDV format.
Exit Art is currently working on a database of its archival holdings. The archives database will eventually be online and will include images. The institution is hoping to have a version available sometime in the fall of 2006, though without images. The complete database, with images, will most likely be available in 2007. In the meantime, they have compiled lists of their exhibition files, artist files, publications, and a catalog of their library that reference their holdings.
Since its inception, Exit Art has been an enclave of avant-garde international art in the United States. During its twenty-five-year history this institution has exhibited the work of numerous Latino and Latin American artists. The archival records of Exit Arts contain invaluable information on the organization's important role as a showcase for experimental international art, including work by Latino and Latin American artists. Finding aids and the systematic organization of records facilitate research in the archives.
Relations to other Latino and Latin American organizations:
Exit Art collaborated with El Museo del Barrio and The Museum of Modern Art in the organization of the program Films with a Purpose: A Puerto Rican Experiment in Social Films, held April 23–May 3, 1987.