CLICK HERE for information on the Alternative Histories catalog, published by MIT Press in 2012.


CLICK HERE to watch "So What Does Alternative Mean To You?"


NY1 visited Alternative Histories! Watch the news spot HERE.


To listen to podcasts from the Alternative Histories Symposia, please subscribe to the podcast directly in iTunes.


September 24 November 24, 2010

Opening Friday, September 24, 7 9pm







Alternative Histories was a history of New York City alternative art spaces and projects since the 1960s. Through audio interviews with founders and key staff, a reading room of magazines and publications, documentation, ephemera and narrative descriptions, the exhibition told the story of pioneering spaces – like P.S.1, Artists Space, Fashion Moda, Taller Boricua, ABC No Rio, The Kitchen, Franklin Furnace, Exit Art, 112 Greene Street, White Columns, Creative Time, Electronic Arts Intermix, Anthology Film Archives, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Just Above Midtown, and many more – and also documented a new generation of alternative projects such as Live With Animals, Fake Estate, Apartment Show, Pocket Utopia, Cleopatra’s, English Kills Art Gallery, Triple Candie, Esopus Space, and others.

Over 130 spaces were represented in the show, which elaborated on the significant contributions these organizations made to the cultural fabric of New York City. They gave visibility and inclusion to otherwise excluded artists and ideas. The idealism of the founders and the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in sustaining these histories, against all odds, illustrated the dynamic purposes that propelled the artistic scene in New York. “Imagination is an alternative to reality, creating options that never end,” says Papo Colo.

The exhibition incorporated a broad definition of the term “alternative space,” and included significant publications and artist collectives to cover a broad arc of this history – bridging neighborhoods, decades and themes. In the development and organization of this exhibition, the curatorial team viewed dozens of archives and personal collections – selecting critical materials from the histories of the spaces and projects – and interviewed founders and early staff members, when possible, to construct a narrative about the alternative space movement in New York and its continuing impact on the city’s cultural and artistic landscape.


106 Green
112 Greene Street / 112 Workshop
179 Canal
255 Canal
98 Greene Street


A Gathering of the Tribes
A.I.R. Gallery
ABC No Rio
Abrons Arts Center
Ad Hoc Art
Alternative Museum

American Indian Community House
Anthology Film Archives
Apartment Show
Art in General
Artists Space
Asian American Arts Centre
Art Workers’ Coalition
Black & White Gallery and Project Space
BRIC Rotunda Gallery
Bronx Blue Bedroom Project
Bronx River Art Center
Bullet Space
Camel Art Space
Camel Collective
Carriage Trade

Center for New Art Activities
Cinders Gallery
Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum
Clocktower Gallery

Collective for Living Cinema
CUE Art Foundation

Creative Time
Daily Operation
Dixon Place

Dumbo Arts Center
El Museo del Barrio
Electronic Arts Intermix
Elwa Productions
English Kills Art Gallery
Esopus Space
Eventos: Space for Living Art
Exit Art
EyeLevel BQE
Factory Fresh
Fake Estate
Famous Accountants
Fashion Moda
Flux Factory
Forever & Today, Inc.
Four Walls
Franklin Furnace
Franklin Street Arts Center

GAle GAtes
Gigantic Artspace
Gran Fury
Group Material
INTAR Latin American Gallery
Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning
Judson Memorial Church
Just Above Midtown
Kenkeleba House
Kentler International Drawing Space

La MaMa
Light Industry
Live With Animals
Local Project
Location One
Longwood Arts Project
Lower East Side Print Shop

Media Noche

Millennium Film Workshop
Minor Injury
Momenta Art
MUSEUM: A Project of Living Artists
NACG / The Film-makers’ Cooperative

New Museum of Contemporary Art

No Longer Empty
Norte Maar
Not An Alternative
NURTUREart Non-Profit, Inc.
Nuyorican Poets Café

Our Goods

Political Art Documentation / Distribution
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Parlour Projects
Pocket Utopia
Printed Matter
Recess Activities

Rush Art Gallery + Resource Center
Secret Project Robot
Sideshow Gallery
Silver Shed
Smack Mellon
Socrates Sculpture Park
Storefront for Art and Architecture

Swiss Institute

Taller Boricua
The Dirty Dirty
The Drawing Center
The Kitchen
The Studio Museum in Harlem
The Thing

Thread Waxing Space
Triple Candie
Triple Canopy
White Box
White Columns
World War 3 Illustrated

Bill Aguado, Longwood Arts Project
John Ahearn, Fashion Moda
Jacki Apple, Apple
Alyson Baker and Ivana Mestrovic, Socrates Sculpture Park
Mike Ballou, Four Walls
Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, Triple Candie
Jackie Battenfield, BRIC Rotunda Gallery
John Bauch, MUSEUM: A Project of Living Artists
Bill Beckley, 98 Greene Street
Steve Cannon, A Gathering of the Tribes
Rhys Chatham, The Kitchen
Papo Colo and Jeanette Ingberman, Exit Art
Anita Contini, Creative Time
Michael Counts, GAle GAtes
Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, ABC No Rio
Marcos Dimas, Taller Boricua
Stefan Eins, Fashion Moda
Elizabeth Ferrer, BRIC Rotunda Gallery
Kathleen Gilrain, Smack Mellon
Tina Girouard, FOOD
Caroline Goodden, FOOD
Joseph Grima, Storefront for Art and Architecture
Antoine Guerrero and Christopher Lew, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Alanna Heiss, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Matthew Higgs, White Columns
Eric Heist, Momenta Art
Arthur Hughes, MUSEUM: A Project of Living Artists
Ken and Flo Jacobs, Millennium Film Workshop
Bob Lee, Asian American Arts Centre
Joe Lewis, Fashion Moda
Tod Lippy, Esopus Space
Inverna Lockpez, INTAR Latin American Gallery
Alan Moore, Colab
George Negroponte, The Drawing Center
Tim Nye, Thread Waxing Space
Dennis Oppenheim, 98 Greene Street
Kyong Park, Storefront for Art and Architecture
Carol Parkinson, Harvestworks
Clayton Patterson, Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum
Ann Philbin, The Drawing Center
Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Karen Yama, Minor Injury
Yvonne Rainer, Collective for Living Cinema
Steven Rand, Apex Art
Andrea Reynosa, Smack Mellon
Geno Rodriguez, Alternative Museum
Irving Sandler, Artists Space
MM Serra, Film-makers’ Cooperative
Peter Scott, Carriage Trade
Allan Schwartzman, New Museum of Contemporary Art
Duff Schweninger and Pamela Seymour Smith Sharp, Franklin Street Arts Center
Adam Simon, Four Walls
Debra Singer, The Kitchen

Greg Tate, Just Above Midtown
Jack Walsh, Collective for Living Cinema
Teresa Liszka and Martin Weinstein, Art in General
Martha Wilson, Franklin Furnace
Lori Zippay, Electronic Arts Intermix

Conceived by Papo Colo and Jeanette Ingberman.

Curated by Herb Tam and Lauren Rosati.


This exhibition would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of the alternative spaces, and without the following curatorial interns who worked for over two years to research and collect material: Kanika Anand, Lindsay Aveilhe, Manon Binee, Helen Bradbury, Raquel Camara, Young In Chung, Lauren Cronk, Laure Dubois, Wilson Duggan, Jennifer Eun, Tyann Jackson, Jason Gasper, Lauren Graves, Alejandro Guzman, Jordan Hill, Jonathan Hussar, Thomas James, Karina Joseph, Cecilia Juan, Intiya Isaza-Figueroa, Rachel Katz, Ani Kington, Jordan Kirkham, Anna Komar, Bokyung Choi, Sinclaire Marber, Naomi Mishkin, Elizabeth Porfidio, Adrienne Rooney, Robert Samsel, Zan Schmidt, Vardui Sharapkhanyan, Vladimir Sheremet, Katherine Sliclin, Yael Stern, and Emi Tomaszewski.



Tickets are $5.

What is Alternative?: Alternative Histories Symposia
This symposia held in connection with the exhibition Alternative Histories will explain, expand, and expound on the history and future of alternative art spaces in New York City.

Friday, October 15 / 7–9pm
What is Alternative?

Moderator: Robert Storr, Dean of Yale School of Art and former Curator in Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, NY (1990 – 2002)


Participants: Papo Colo, Artistic Director / Co-Founder, Exit Art; Martha Wilson, Founder / Director, Franklin Furnace; Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, Former Directors of ABC No Rio, Founders / Director of Le Petit Versailles; Bridget Finn, Cleopatra's

This opening conversation amongst founders / directors of early and emerging alternative art spaces looks at the various definitions of an “alternative” space. Is alternative an accurate and appropriate word to describe its activities? What alternatives do these spaces provide, and for whom? What is the future of the alternative?

Friday, October 29 / 7-9pm
Activism and the Rise of Alternative Art Spaces

Moderator: Mary Anne Staniszewski, Associate Professor and Acting Head of the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY


Participants: Robert Lee, Director, Asian American Arts Centre; Beka Economopoulos, Co-Founder / Director, Not An Alternative; Alanna Heiss, Founder, P.S.1, Director, AIR and Clocktower Gallery; Avram Finkelstein, Gran Fury; Melissa Rachleff Burtt, Clinical Associate Professor of Arts Administration, NYU

Investigating the early history of New York alternative spaces, this panel looks at the genesis, culture and legacy of this movement in the context of activism and political agency.


Tuesday, November 9 / 7-9pm
Screening of performance event Soup & Tart, 1974-75

Soup & Tart is an extraordinary document of a marathon performance soirée organized by multimedia artist Jean Dupuy at The Kitchen on November 30, 1974. Dupuy invited over 30 downtown artists, musicians, and filmmakers to each give a two-minute performance. Participants included Hannah Wilke, Gordon Matta-Clark, Charlemagne Palestine, Arthur Russell and Richard Serra.


Wednesday, November 10 / 7-9pm
New Media Alternatives

Moderator: Ed Halter, Director of Light Industry, NY

Participants: Rebecca Cleman, Distribution Director, Electronic Arts Intermix; Lauren Cornell, Executive Director, Rhizome, and Adjunct Curator, the New Museum of Contemporary Art; Carol Parkinson, Director, Harvestworks

The participants in this panel are engaged with alternative spaces whose activities span more than 40 years. Covering topics as diverse as audio, film, video, the Internet and video games, this discussion will include unique perspectives on the ways in which new media has affected and altered the alternative space movement.


Tuesday, November 16 and Wednesday, November 17 / 7-10pm
Counter Cultures, Counter Cinema
Curated by MM Serra, Executive Director of the NACG / The Film-Maker's Cooperative


Tuesday, November 16, 7-10pm

PROGRAM 1: Underground Classics

Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith, 1963, 16mm, black and white, sound) 45 minutes

Lupe (Jose Rodriguez-Soltero, 1966, 16mm, color, sound) 49.5 minutes

Fuses (Carolee Schneemann, 1964, 16mm, color, silent) 30 minutes


Wednesday, November 17, 7-10pm

PROGRAM 2: The New Underground

Don't Kill the Weatherman! (Martha Colburn, 2007, 5 minutes)

Myth Labs (Martha Colburn, 2008, 7:30 minutes)

Capitalism: Child Labor (Ken Jacobs, 2006, 14 minutes)

Manuelle Labor (Marie Losier, 2007, 10 minutes)

Lunch Break on the Xerox Machine (Marie Losier, 2009, 3 minutes)

Glitch Telemetry (Maria Niro, 2010, 3 minutes)

Dorian (Michelle Handelman, 2009, 9 minutes)

Atalanta: Thirty-Two Years Later (Lynne Sachs, 2006)

The Small Ones (Lynne Sachs, 2007, 4 minutes)

Burn, Volume 1 (Bradley Eros, 2004, 5:30 minutes)


Each evening of films will be introduced by a filmmaker, TBA, and will be followed by a panel discussion.


MM Serra is an experimental filmmaker, curator and author. She is the Executive Director of the Film-Maker's Cooperative, the world's largest archive of indepdendent media. Her film work was included in the program of "New York Experimental," a four part historical overview of experimental film from 1946-2007. Her new film, Chop Off, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Museum of Modern Art's Documentary Fortnight Series in 2009. Her chapter on the work of Carolee Schneemann was published in Anthology of Experimental Filmmakers by Duke University Press (2007).


Related Panel Discussion:
Friday, October 22 / 6-8pm
Alternative Curatorial Strategies Today
Organized and hosted by ArtTable at Exit Art

Moderator: Erin Donnelly, LMCC

Participants: Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton, Forever & Today, Inc.; Allison Weisberg, Recess Activities; Michael Connor, Marian Spore; Regine Basha, Basha Projects/Grackleworld; Virginija  Januškeviciute, CEC Artslink Fellow from Lithuania hosted by Independent Curators International; Radhika Subramaniam, Director/Chief Curator, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center


For this panel, you must RSVP with ArtTable by emailing Heather Bhandari at



Alter the Native

Imagination is an alternative to reality, creating options that never end.

History is a complex set of events that we organize at our convenience.
Alternative is the choosing of options that redefine the traditional.

Alternative spaces are another way to interpret reality,
an unconventional product of the mainstream.
They are the explorers of possibilities.
That was how this movement began.
But as the systems of power absorb our ways,
the alternative becomes mainstream and we again have to conceive new options.

Culture is always changing and the alternative task is to interpret that transformation.
Dissatisfaction with the ordinary art world is the motive,
to create another dimension in which different cultural trends are produced,
understanding the same bending in the culture
but with unique ways to express it.
Art is how populations use knowledge.
A new approach to an old method,
seeing the extraordinary before the ordinary arrives

The great idea of democracy is that it is run by alternatives.
The thirteen colonies were the original alternative space.

Art is the expression of everything we envision.
History has different stories depending on the narrator.
European colonization was the alternative to the native Americas.
Africans were the alternative to the hard work Europeans avoided.
Extermination and slavery were the apparatus to alter the native of the Americas.
Alternative is destruction and creation.
In art, science and life to alter the status quo is to build something new.
Evolution is the mixture of things, transforming us into unknown forms.
Alternative, then, is the different selections that history makes.
These can be positive or negative,
but always biased depending on which side of the facts you are.

Times change and stay the same.

Since the 1960s, where this exhibition begins, art production has developed multiple currents, cultural bureaucrats, the overpopulation of dealers, and the “critic” commentator with invisible and visible connections to institutions and individuals. “The art world” has multiplied its ability for commerce and propaganda, hyping the importance of artists to increase their value.
We are all in this circus of lies and truths,
surrogates in a vortex of what is new or of what wants to be new,
a mirage of self-interest of countries and ethnic chauvinism.
Art has become city fiestas of cultural tourism.
Museums will not survive without this, national cultures are chain stores of diplomacy, the competition of influences are the real objective of art production. Museums are hungry creatures that with their influence, compete and swallow small places like the alternatives spaces. Control is supremacy, monopoly an imperative, art and artist the medium in which to express their importance.

The alternative space is supposed to denounce these manipulations
and work the ethical side of the cultural production.
The alternative space is the most autonomous method of reinventing intervention.
Without alternatives culture has no break from its actions,
no perspective, no mirror to see its shortsightedness, no future.
Alternative spaces are alternative societies, constructing parallel histories.
Alternative has been associated with the young, new or unusual, but as the concept has grown older they have become also wise and prophetic.

Art is the action of consuming the self
and the supreme manifestation of humans.
Agitate the arts and powers shake.
Alter your life and the world will change.

Papo Colo
New York City and El Yunque Rainforest, PR 2010





Saturday, September 25 / 2pm
From the WPA to the NEA: Arts Funding Then and Now
Moderator: Morris Dickstein

Participants: Rocco Landesman, Kate D. Levin, Susan Quinn, Leslie G. Schultz
247 East 82nd Street

The WPA, one of the central programs of Roosevelt's New Deal, was pivotal in providing a template for government subsidy of arts projects, producing one of the great periods of creative expression in the history of American society.This panel will look at how and why the WPA stimulated creative growth during a crucial period in American history, and examine the ways in which government subsidy of the arts can foster a sense of social identity.


Through Sunday, September 26, 2010
Collective Show NYC 2010
253 East Houston Street

"Collective Show New York 2010" is an artist-organized exhibition of contemporary collaborative art groups recently established in New York. This collaboratively curated “group show of group shows” features DIY artist-run spaces and projects, emerging curatorial initiatives and local independent publications.


Through October 23, 2010
ACT UP NEW YORK: Activism, Art and the AIDS Crisis, 1987-1993
320 West 13th Street
212 924 4212

White Columns presents "ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993", a multi-faceted exhibition incorporating the ACT UP ORAL HISTORY PROJECT; and a new installation by fierce pussy.


Through October 9, 2010
Max's Kansas City
521 West 23 Street
212 966 3978

This exhibition features over 150 vintage and limited edition photographs, and monumental sculptures and paintings by the inner circle of Max's artists, including John Chamberlain, Forrest Myers, Larry Zox, Neil Williams, and Andy Warhol. A highlight will be Myers' recreation of his famous laser/jukebox installation.


Alternative Space Archives Project (AS-AP) is a non-profit initiative founded by a consortium of alternative art organizations, with a mandate to help preserve, present, and protect the archival heritage of living and defunct for- and not-for-profit spaces of the "alternative" or "avant-garde" movement of the 1950s to the present throughout the United States.

OUR GOODS is a barter network for artists, designers, and craftspeople. It connects people who want to barter skills, spaces, and goods to get independent work done. Exchanges are based on social, environmental, and ethical rationales rather than strict market value.



Exit Art is an independent vision of contemporary culture. We are prepared to react immediately to important issues that affect our lives. We do experimental, historical and unique presentations of aesthetic, social, political and environmental issues. We absorb cultural differences that become prototype exhibitions. We are a center for multiple disciplines. Exit Art is a 28-year-old cultural center in New York City founded by Directors Jeanette Ingberman and artist Papo Colo, that has grown from a pioneering alternative art space, into a model artistic center for the 21st century committed to supporting artists whose quality of work reflects the transformations of our culture. Exit Art is internationally recognized for its unmatched spirit of inventiveness and consistent ability to anticipate the newest trends in the culture. With a substantial reputation for curatorial innovation and depth of programming in diverse media, Exit Art is always changing.

This exhibition was generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. This exhibition is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. General exhibition support provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Bloomberg LP; Jerome Foundation; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; Lambent Foundation; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; Exit Art’s Board of Directors and our members. Special thanks to the Fales Library and Special Collection.


Exit Art is located at 475 Tenth Avenue, corner of 36th Street. Hours: Tues. – Thurs., 10am – 6pm; Fri., 10am – 8pm; and Sat., noon – 8pm. Closed Sun. and Mon. There is a suggested donation of $5. For more information please call 212-966-7745 or visit