A “Help Desk” Marathon Will Answer Artists’ Most Pressing Questions This Saturday

Help Desk Marathon

Equity Gallery is offering up a marathon “performance,” of sorts, this Saturday as part of its current show featuring artist Ofri Cnaani‘s solo exhibition, File Under: ?.

The new hub at 245 Broome St., is run by the historic non-profit, New York Artists Equity Association, an organization created in 1947 by artists and art patrons with the mission to promote opportunities for artists.

The performance is a culmination of the show, in which Cnaani invited artists from around the world to submit their most pressing questions – “those questions that each individual artist wants answered to help him/her in their lives as artists.” She is using various projectors to display these burning questions in the gallery for the ongoing show.  A panel of local experts, from a variety of fields, will be on hand Saturday to answer and discuss them.

Artist Ofri Cnaani.

Artist Ofri Cnaani.

“I was really drawn to the idea of artists not only raising money by collecting and producing their work together, but also specifically by exchanging something with businesses,” Cnaani told me in an interview.  “It  was really interesting for me to think about culture as an equity…and for artists to have an understanding that they have a value that could be exchangeable,” she said. “So it goes both ways, it’s not just the artists saying ‘you owe us something’.”

Melinda Wang, who is currently managing the Equity Gallery, said, “I was so drawn to (Cnaani’s) idea of the call for questions because Artists Equity has always been about community building and I feel that this show is not only about the art community but also about our wider community, especially on the Lower East Side.”

The topics raised range from professional to personal to theoretical. (Questions can still be submitted via email to info@nyartistsequity.org, via Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #artistquestion or anonymously via Artists Equity’s website.)

Cnaani, who also teaches at the School for Visual Arts, said the initial questions that came in were often heartbreaking. Questions like, “Will I ever have food in my pantry?” to, “Will I survive?.” And there have been a lot of questions about leaving New York — as well as questions from artists in other countries asking if New York is still relevant, if they can even afford it and if it’s still worth it to move here.

One question reads, “Berlin or L.A.?,” another reads, “What are some of my biggest weaknesses?,” and another: “Am I doing anything important?.”

Ofri+Cnaani+Equity+Gallery+1

Wang said that people walking by are intrigued by the questions being projected in the window, because they are often questions that relate to everyone, not just artists.

The roster of experts invited to answer the questions was determined by the frequency of the topics. They include:

  • Britt Barney, financial planner, LearnVest (Debt and Money)
  • Leila Bozorg, ‎Chief of Staff, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development (Housing)
  • Christine Cha, designer, developer, digital marketer and entrepreneur (Marketing)
  • Joey Lico, curator and director of programming at The Cultivist (Art Currencies)
  • Gean Moreno, artist and writer, artistic director of Cannonball, Miami (Art and the Future)
  • Tracy D. Morgan, psychoanalyst (Emotional Health)
  • Keren Moscovitch, artist and life coach (Work/Life Balance)
  • Shavit Yarden, attorney, specializing in immigration (Visas)

The free conversation begins at noon.  It will be recorded and the public is invited to join for any or all of it.

Equity Gallery //245 Broome St., near Ludlow // “Help Desk” Performance: Saturday, January 16, 2016, 12-4 p.m. // Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm, and by appointment