At the age of 10, we start to think about the future - the closest and the farthest. Quickly, the future takes you back to its roots: the past, with a layover in the present.
When The Invisible Dog Art Center opened its first season on Saturday October 3rd 2009, Barack Obama was the President of a country in a deep recession; editorialists were arguing about "we must" and "we can", the weather was approaching 70 in New York City, and Bergen street was already the sunniest and largest street of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn!
Having the energy and the fearless desire to create a multidisciplinary arts center, a home for artists, a place for a community seems to be, today, 10 years later, a miracle. Luckily, we did not believe in miracles at that time. Instead, we believed in each other, we believed in the strength of work, rigor, risk, fun, and pleasure.
The Invisible Dog was not a concept and has never been. The building itself is the main inspiration of the project, built on three major foundations:
The first one, the artistic: to provide a safe place for artists in order to create, develop, succeed, fail, experiment with no extravagant promises. The true inspiration of the The Invisible Dog is the only wealth we had: a 150-year-old building, made with wood and bricks. Artists will be asked to love the building, to create for the building. No curators will interfere, the dust will be part of the process and artists will have to respect the director's daily nap.
The second one, the economic model: a strict and rigorous financial administration based on commercial income that supports artistic expenses, avoids bureaucracy, deficit and debts (not a single dollar in debt in 10 years!), and simplifies communication between artists and management, diversifying and always imagining new and creative sources of revenues.
The third one, and not the least important, a strong and trust-based relationship with the landlord.
Back then, if some were quite skeptical, many were enthusiastic. The artists first, the heart of The Invisible Dog, followed by NYC's cultural institutions' directors who came and collaborated, bringing phenomenal projects inside our walls. Our neighbors, who have supported us despite many inconveniences we created by mistake and miscommunication. And finally, in the last 5 years, our donors: foundations and organizations for a small part, individuals for the largest part.
There are so many stories that would illustrate the last exciting 9 years, but there is one I like a bit more because it shows the very essence of 51 Bergen.
In October 2012, at Prelude Festival, 600 Highwaymen presented a new body of work. I invited them to develop and present it at The Invisible Dog in February 2013. Rehearsals started and I didn't recognize a single part of what I had seen 5 months earlier. I decided my memory was faulty, and I let the artists work. The Record is the triumph we all know now, but still not the one I had chosen to present. The day after the last performance, I had lunch with Abigail and Michael, founders directors of the company. Dialogue ensued:
- Can I ask you a question? This was not what I saw at Prelude, right?
- (Abigail) No, it wasn't.
- Ah?! But why you did not tell me?
- (Michael) You did not ask.
- Dessert or coffee?
I was wrong. We should believe in miracles.
For the Season 10, Invisible Dog artist Mac Premo creates a sculptural number "10", permanently installed at the entrance of 51 bergen for 12 months. Each month, a different artist will be asked to replace the face of the "1", offering their own interpretation of what it means to welcome.
Welcome to the Season 10 of The Invisible Dog Art Center. THANK YOU to the hundreds artists, technicians, interns, thousands of supporters and audience members, millions of followers for bringing us into our present, for their support in our past.
And together we can discuss the future again ... in 10 years.
Thank you for your support!
Founder – Director