Full house! Crown Heights art installation is inspired by hoarders

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This performance will have it all — literally.

On Aug. 28, Five Myles gallery in Crown Heights will host a new performance and installation piece inspired by notable New York hoarders. Artists Julia Smith and Eric F. Avery said the work, dubbed “It is very difficult to keep…,” will be a very visual and visceral representation of hoarding.

“The background is actually the foreground in this particular piece,” said Smith, who lives in Ditmis Park. “It is less what we’re doing or speaking or saying.”

The live performance piece is still in the works, but the artists said it will feature them as two characters, surrounded by clutter.

The work is inspired by real-life including the wealthy Collyer brothers — who died in the late-1940s in their Harlem home, surrounded by more than 100 tons of trash — and the Beales, a mother-daughter duo who lived in the Hamptons and were featured in the 1975 documentary “Grey Gardens.”

But don’t expect a theatrical version of “Hoarders” — the piece is an abstract interpretation of hoarding, rather than a realistic representation of the disease, the artists explained.

“It is not this piece of realism,” said Avery, who lives in Minneapolis. “This is visual poetry of what this life is like.”

The artists plan to limit their materials to the seemingly meaningless objects that many hoarders keep — even when those objects are virtually valueless.

“It is primarily newspaper, string, tape — some kind of ubiquitous objects that people hold,” said Smith.

By using plain, everyday objects, the performance will highlight the idea of hoarding, and the issues around it, rather than focusing on particular possessions, said Avery.

“Our focus is more about relationships rather than stuff,” said Avery, who lives in Minneapolis. “Our relationships with each other, our relationships for space.”

“It is very difficult to keep…” at Five Myles Gallery [558 Saint Johns Pl. between Classon and Franklin avenues in Crown Heights, (718) 783–4438,]. Aug. 28 at 7:30 pm. Free. Installation will remain through Aug. 23.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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