Though to passersby it must have seemed like the opening of the latest hipster bar, it was actually the opening of the "CPH Experiments" exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. The gallery was filled with Lego models of imaginary buildings made by the Copenhagan-based experimental architecture collective BIG. Its photogenic leader, Bjarke Ingels, greeted admirers while a tape of his Danish TV appearance played overhead.
Meanwhile, Storefront's new director, Joseph Grima, observed the crowd from the sidewalk, and he must have been pleased with what he saw. Since he took over in January, following a three-year stint at Italian publication Domus, Grima has sought to reenergize the 25-year-old institution's mission of examining architecture's role in society.
"I think there is a lot of boredom with the didactic approach toward communicating art and architecture," he says. "I've been really trying to see Storefront not simply as a gallery, but also as an event space."
Events, Grima has decided, are a good way "to reach out to audiences who wouldn't normally pay attention to exhibits."
For example, Storefront recently hosted "Dance Faster," an open-to-the-public performance in nearby Petrosino Park by artist Daniel Perlin — aka DJ N-Ron. Perlin broadcast music over wireless headphones and the more than 70 participants danced along silently. It was such a hit that Grima is thinking about bringing the show to different locations throughout the city.
Considering the astonishingly small size of the museum (it measures a mere 100 feet long and tapers from 20 feet to 3 feet in width), it makes sense he's looking outside the gallery walls.
Besides planning so-called "interventions" like "Dance Fever," he also has targeted the virtual world through live blogging events. And this fall, Storefront commissioned Korean architect Minsuk Cho to erect a giant dome of hula hoops over Petrosino Park as part of a monthlong 25th anniversary celebration and event series, called "Performance Z-A."