A Prospect Lefferts Gardens artist whose work probed racial and economic tension in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood could have included himself in the piece — thieves stole a TV that was a critical part of the artwork!
Last Tuesday, a crook broke into the unnamed art space on Flatbush Avenue near Maple Street and swiped the 42-inch Toshiba TV and DVD player that were displaying Brian Fernandes-Halloran’s piece, “Between Neighbors,” which asked viewers to sit in a curtained-off “Truth Booth” and speak candidly about tension in the multi-cultural, upwardly mobile area.
“It hurts,” said Fernandes-Halloran, a flannel-clad Philadelphia native. “Whoever did it doesn’t care about art or the neighborhood — or what went into the show.”
Before the TV was stolen, viewers were treated to video clips including a teen who hates her Jamaican accent, a Swedish woman talking about racism, and a rap about pretty ladies on Flatbush Avenue. The exhibition also featured oil paintings about “the physical space” between neighbors and “the deeper psychological distance” between cultures.
There was also an interactive map on which gallery-goers could hang location-inspired stories — “like Christmas tree ornaments,” he said. And at the back of the exhibit: A long, green curtain and a private booth for thoughts and rants on camera.
Several days after the opening, Fernandes-Halloran received a write-up in our sister publication, the Wall Street Journal, and praise from art bloggers. Soon, nearby schools began to bring students there for field trips.
“People felt really connected to this show,” said Laura Frenzer, president of PLG Arts, which sponsored the exhibition. “So a crime like this feels like a big violation.”
Indeed, Fernandes-Halloran — who lost $400 worth of his own electronic equipment — said it stings with irony, considering the artwork’s subject matter.
“This show was supposed to open people up,” he said. “But this makes you want to do the opposite.”Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cn