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James Franco to Open ROCKAWAY! Arts Festival with Poetry Reading at Fort Tilden; Runs 6/29-9/1

Related: James Franco, Fort Tilden, Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, Janet Cardiff
James Franco to Open ROCKAWAY! Arts Festival with Poetry Reading at Fort Tilden; Runs 6/29-9/1

Rockaway!, a free public arts festival sponsored by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) to celebrate the reopening of Fort Tilden and recognize the ongoing recovery of the Rockaway peninsula, opens June 29 and continues through September 1, 2014.

Invited by the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), an association of artists based in and around the Rockaways, and the JBRPC, MoMA PS1 has assisted and supported the conception of this festival. Hosted by the National Park Service (NPS), which owns and manages Fort Tilden, Rockaway! showcases the natural and historical beauty of Fort Tilden, in which RAA has had a public gallery for the past 19 years.

Rockaway! was conceived by MoMA PS1's Director, Klaus Biesenbach, in close collaboration with Patti Smith. There will be an additional group show in the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, organized in collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial.

MoMA PS1's collaboration with RAA and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) began with the VW Dome 2, a temporary cultural and community center the museum constructed on Beach 95th Street in Rockaway Beach following the rescue and volunteer efforts the museum organized in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. Operated through June 30, 2013, the VW Dome 2 was made possible by a long-term partnership with Volkswagen of America.

Given its work on the VW Dome 2, MoMA PS1 was in a unique position to facilitate a coordinated effort between the newly established JBRPC, a public-private partnership with NPS and DPR dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula, and local artists and community groups in the Rockaways. Rockaway! is an encouraging example of the many collaborations that have developed through the challenging process of rebuilding the Rockaways.

The acclaimed international artist, writer, and musician Patti Smith-a Rockaway resident-conceived a large-scale installation, photography exhibition, and site-specific outdoor installation (The Resilience of the Dreamer) specially for Rockaway! Having witnessed personal belongings of Rockaway residents being destroyed and washed away during Sandy, Smith will install a gilded four-post bed with pure white linens in a long-abandoned building that lacks windows and parts of its roof. The bed will wear down physically, yet remain in place, a symbol of courage and resilience.

In the RAA galleries, an exhibition of photographs taken by Smith over the last several years focuses on objects that were dear to their owners: Robert Mapplethorpe's slippers, Robert Graves's hat, Virginia Woolf's bed, Frida Kahlo's corset, and William Burroughs's bandana, among others. The adjoining gallery is dedicated to Walt Whitman and includes books of his poetry that visitors are invited to read. Smith has also placed five granite stones engraved with verses from Whitman's poetry along the trails of Fort Tilden to mark the far ends of this scenic urban park on the ocean.

In addition, the Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas will present a selection of small sculptures made from unfired clay and straw, inspired by the nests of the tiny Argentinian birds known as horneros. Installed in several locations throughout Fort Tilden, these nests invite local birds to inhabit them, offering a temporary home in this beautiful and fragile environment. These nests-a number of which can be found along the impressive hills and former batteries-also highlight the military history of Fort Tilden, which was built to provide protection against a potential enemy invasion from the ocean.


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