An ArtPort Residency project that fosters community in a transient place
Gideon Jacobs and Lexie Smith, two writers from Ridgewood, are the first two artists-in-residence for the 2018 ArtPort Residency - a new QCA program in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), where Queens-based artists will work in a public studio space in LaGuardia's Marine Air Terminal (Terminal A).
The ArtPort Residency allows artists-in-residence to create new work while interacting with the thousands of visitors that come through the airport daily, and bring and engaging cultural experience to the space.
Gideon and Lexie's project Landing Pages is a unique opportunity where they will meet with passersby who visit their kiosk in the Marine Air Terminal, and use the experience of the space to write new works of fiction on the spot.
We sat down with Gideon and Lexie and asked them about their experience so far, and what they hope for the project in the future.
The writers will be in the studio until June 30th - check out QCA's Landing Pages site for open studio hours when you can visit and meet the artists
For those who can't visit the Marine Air Terminal and still want to follow the Landing Pages project - Gideon and Lexie will update their website with the stories that they write during their residency at www.LandingPages.nyc
Tell us about Landing Pages - how did you come up with the project idea?
When we heard about the residency, we knew we wanted to do something site-specific rather than simply make work that we could have made anywhere. So we came up with this concept of Landing Pages, which is, for lack of a better way of describing it, a kind of literary performance project that uses the experience of the terminal as its constraints. Passengers can visit the Landing Pages kiosk before they get on their flight, and give us their flight number and phone number (or emails). We then have the duration of their flight to write them a "Landing Page" -- a story of some sort that must be delivered to their cell phone before they land.
Landing Pages has been going for about a week now, how has the experience in that transient environment and constant flow of people been for you so far? Any surprises that you've encountered?
The transient environment of LGA Terminal A has been pretty inspiring, and it's definitely leaking into our stories, in overt and subtle ways. Another thing we like is that there's this low hum of noise -- voices, luggage rolling, air conditioning, etc -- that kind of feels like the soundtrack to our work, but is also not so loud that it's distracting.
What do you plan on writing about when you meet a visitor?
We decided to keep possibilities of what a "Landing Page" can be pretty open, but we imagine that most of them will be inspired by our surroundings in the Marine Air Terminal, and our interactions with the passengers.
What made you want to take part in the Residency, especially one that takes place in an airport?
To begin with, neither of us had heard of a residency that married a municipal space with a studio opportunity, and we figured the folks behind it had to have a unique vision of their own to have created anything like it. Airports are totally enigmatic ecosystems where interactions are often strained, frenzied, or nonexistent. The thought of a workspace standing still in that transient environment was compelling. We wanted to figure out if we could synthesize that space into work that travelers could take with them, making the viewer a necessary part of the work’s creation. Any environment that’s characterized by a constantly changing landscape is a dynamic place to pull human stories from, so despite its seeming discordant with a writing practice, the airport as residency is actually, in many ways, ideal.
How does collaborating as a team affect your process?
It holds us accountable, splits the logistical weight lifting to allow more time for creative production, and forces amendments and creative workarounds that wouldn’t come with one unchallenged opinion. Having to vocalize our ideas about the structure of the project helped formalize them, and really gave Landing Pages its final dimensions. Likely the best part is that its simply more fun, and makes sitting in a room for an extended time, prying things out of your brain and onto a page, a lot easier to sustain (and enjoy).
What do you hope to achieve with Landing Pages, especially with regards to the community that go through the airport on a daily basis?
We hope that Landing Pages can a surprise for anyone visiting the terminal, whether they are about to hop on a flight, or coming from the neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia. We also hope that it can be a reminder that things like writing and fiction and stories are much more flexible than we sometimes think, capable of appearing nearly anywhere and taking on a variety of shapes.
This may be too early to answer, but would you have any advice for artists hoping to do a public project like this in the future? Whether in terms of applying to residency opportunities, or actually executing the project?
Our only advice would be to really take into account the experience of those who interact with your project when designing your concept. All public art is a two-way street flowing between artist and audience. It's helpful to put yourself in their position before conceptualizing your own. Also, be flexible, as there are always adjustments that need to be made once a project exits the vacuum of your brain and enters the real world.
Any questions about grants and residencies opportunities at QCA, email Dan Bamba firstname.lastname@example.org
The QCA ArtPort Residency is a program of the Queens Council on the Arts, Queens Art Fund that is supported in part by the NYC DCLA, Greater NY Arts Development Fund, in partnership with the NYC Council and in partnership with PANYNJ.