Either/Oars: Courtney Smith 

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"Me Two", 2013, plywood, recycled plywood and paint. - PHOTO BY THELMA GARCIA
  • Photo by Thelma Garcia
  • "Me Two", 2013, plywood, recycled plywood and paint.

Smith enjoys investigating social interactions as well, especially where inanimate objects might play some sort of behavior-related or structural role. As such, as one of 16 Brooklyn artists selected to make a display out of a length of five tables meant to seat 40 mixedly ritzy diners at the Brooklyn Museum’s “Brooklyn Artists Ball” in mid-April—the other artists are Olek, Adam Parker Smith, Ellen Altfest, Oliver Clegg, Marianne Vitale, Ghost of a Dream, Rico Gatson, Orly Genger, Alejandro Guzman, Nina Katchadourian, Iona Rozeal Brown, Carrie Schneider, Alyson Shotz, Nick van Woert and Heeseop Yoon; the one-night benefit will welcome over 600 guests—Smith’s plan is to draw attention to the very structure of a collective dining experience. Still in the works, her project, “Working Party,” is intended to strip away imaginable seating-related hierarchies among diners while placing them—and their plates, their silverware, their glasses, their linen napkins—in compartmentalized units slatted off such that the tables seem like one long galley ship, rowers’ oarports readily apparent, or a broad surface with a great skeletal construct lying atop it. How do you dine within such an apparatus? How do you behave and interact? How is a social structure inflected or infringed upon by such an imposed form of suggested order?

Such questions are among those Smith hopes her mildly befuddled sitters might ask themselves while in the act of dining, if not also for some time thereafter. Though the thrust of the structure will be somewhat plain—simply planned, squarish, unstained—Smith intends to garnish it a tad with an ornamental flourish or two to slightly expand the diners’ scope of inquiry. Why a curved divider bar here? Why a rounded edge over there? Wherefore, while we’re here, the graceful arc of a question mark?

"Brooklyn Artists Ball," a benefit event for the Brooklyn Museum, will take place on Wednesday, 16 April, at 6:30pm. It will be followed by a dance party beginning at 10pm. More information and tickets here.

You can follow Paul D'Agostino on Twitter @postuccio


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