Commercial Break Belatedly Premieres in Greenpoint


“Commercial Break,” a highly anticipated video program that never properly debuted during the 2011 Venice Biennale, will premiere on the industrial New York waterfront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “Commercial Break” will be part of Nuit Blanche New York’s second annual “Bring to Light,” a free nighttime public art festival taking place simultaneously in Paris, Brussels and Toronto at sundown on Oct. 1.

Curated by Neville Wakefield, “Commercial Break” features over 100 videos, each 30 to 90 seconds long, mimicking the typical length of a television ad. Contributions include Maurizio Cattelan’s Toiletpaper (2011) and painter Richard Phillips’s first clip, Lindsay Lohan (2011), featuring the actress swimming and sunning in a white bikini.

Intended as a critique of omnipresent advertising in the art world—and, indeed, the world beyond—the project was originally set to sail along the Grand Canal, with videos screening on an LED screen on a boat. Despite considerable hype, Wakefield was ultimately unable to obtain the necessary permits to display the sequence publicly, so it was shown only at a private party at the Bauer Hotel.

In Greenpoint, “Commercial Break” is tucked away at the end of a small alleyway, right on the water. The shorts will play in random order on a 17-by-10-foot LED screen, with the Manhattan skyline providing a dramatic backdrop. In conversation with A.i.A., Wakefield called the new site “the perfect counterpoint” to the Venetian canals.

The first Nuit Blanche was held in Paris in 2002 and the festival has since spread, transforming public spaces into venues for art and performance for one night only. Nuit Blanche New York’s creative director, Ken Farmer, says this year’s edition has quadrupled in physical size from the last, and will have three separate sections, including a playground, a warehouse and the waterfront, in addition to “Commercial Break.” A mix of emerging and established artists including Richard Serra, Chris Jordan and Rita Ackermann have created site-specific installations of light, sound, performance and projection art.