“It’s too crowded right now,” said Hajoe Moderegger, one half (with Franziska Lamprecht) of Queens-based German artist duo eteam at the opening of their new exhibition, Gallery Cruise, at Smack Mellon during the DUMBO Arts Festival on Saturday night. “On Wednesday, when the gallery is almost empty, then the exhibition will really begin.” Part sculpture, part installation and part performance (including, during the reception, a safety demonstration with bright orange life vests), Gallery Cruise brings the unique temporal experience of being aboard a giant cruise-liner (specifically, the Queen Elizabeth II) to the gallery space.
A semi-circular and brightly carpeted area filled with tables, plywood chairs and the roughly cut wooden shape of a piano marks out the imagined mega cruise ship’s Tea Room. From their deep seats, passengers can look back past the bow—a curved wooden beam suspended from the gallery’s 30-foot ceiling—at a two-channel video on the towering white wall facing them of the trail of a large ship cutting a line on a sunny ocean as far back as the eye can see. With nothing to see outside, the schedule of daily activities forms the exhibition’s focus.
“We posted an ad on Craigslist and eventually narrowed it down to three finalists,” Moderegger explained of the process for picking the piece’s lead performer, a janitor-waiter-officer who’ll be on deck every day during the exhibition, through November 7. His duties will include mopping, sweeping, preparing and serving during Tea Time, which runs daily from 3-5pm, and cleaning up afterward to close up at 6pm. The musicians playing on the laptop set up atop the wooden piano cutout will be a selection of YouTube videos. “It’s a hard job,” Moderegger said, “that has nothing to do with getting the work done, with actually cleaning—well, a little bit—but it’s all about being in the space and taking your time because there isn’t anything else to do or any place to go.” He continued, “a lot of the people we interviewed were really eager to get the work done, but the person we ended up picking is really into the piece’s performative aspects.” Now that all the DUMBO Arts Festival crowds have abandoned ship (it was a good DAF this year, though, right?), stop by Smack Mellon and spend some time aboard eteam’s Gallery Cruise. (Also don’t miss the gallery’s other exhibition, a show of superb charcoal drawings by Charlotte Schulz.)