Tu! Gift, Tu! Take
6 – 9PM
AGORA and Tutu Gallery announce Tu! Gift, Tu! Take, a group exhibition featuring participatory, multidisciplinary works by 16 artists, that invites visitors in acts of exchange by allowing them to take home fragments of artworks or to contribute to them, a nod to the holiday gift-giving tradition. Casting the hybrid space of feline commercial gallerist Tutu and her human assistant April as “a relational incubator” to cultivate community, Tu! Gift, Tu! Take uses its unique context to interchange ideas of privatization and means of production, playfully highlighting the inherent “giving-and-taking” quality in the circulation of art and raising the question of where domesticity and humanness fit within capitalist structures in the art world. During this festive season, Tu! Gift, Tu! Take offers a space to reflect on constructed objects and services in a safe, lighthearted manner where visitors have autonomy over their experiences.
The winter calls for a seat by Sidian Liu’s flame, like that in Den lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne (A Little Match Girl), stoked by your dreams, growing with the contribution of every voice. Camilla Carper’s works offer a system of exchange values in relation to the inherent material and conceptual value of the gallery assistant’s clothing. For weary travelers, Alexander Si offers artisanal fortune cookies, reverse engineering a cultural token of the Chinese-American diasporic cuisine, for sustenance. Ziedah Diata’s mirror asks you to conjure your own names and consider: “What if I named myself?” “What if you saw yourself as already embodying that energy?” “What if others saw you that way too?” In part defiance against medical gatekeeping and in part sacrilege against the intangibility of painting, Riven Ratanavanh’s work emancipates you from artwork’s “mind the gap” and offers the most basic of human needs. Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde’s (Black Corpus) work invites constant recalibration of black futures through engraved acrylic sheets which, in conjunction with each other, map a non-linear time-space of Blackness which is informed by and subsequently molds notions of race, politics, and memory. Lobbin Liu’s interactive installation of illustrations populated in “touch-sensitive zones” traces the sensitive nature of haptic touch and the agile, silent prowl of a cat. claudia yeejae kim’s work invites you to sculpt the body of your dreams, while staring into the “plain” face of the global Korean beauty brand which has largely influenced the notion of beauty we live by today.
If hunger persists, Erica Enriquez and claudia yeejae kim have organized a kitchen unequipped for culinary articulation, relatable amongst New York’s urban dwellers. For the parched, Albert Samreth’s totemic stack of beer cans, stripped of their iconographic signage, bewitches the capitalistic structures of branding systematically ingrained into our minds. The refrigerator facade, a shrine of holiday cards, photos of friends and family, and magnetic signs and symbols, acts as Kai Oh’s canvas to display a collective process of image-making, within which your signature will remain. Erica Enriquez’s map, Tutu-sized banners, and chicken nugget conjoin our fear of mighty New York mice with our childish infatuations of mazes and mythology, creating a sensory comedy that speaks to the illustrative and playful nature of Tutu’s home.
As in any home, portraits of family, friends, loved ones, and acquaintances display a sense of familiarity; Jakob Sitter’s endless feed of artificially-generated renderings fulfill this requirement of domesticity and accent Tutu’s foundation of DM’s. So Jung Min’s screening of an orchestrated play involving foam rats, star golfers, and Danny Noonan of the film Caddyshack provides a glimpse into her grandfather’s military golf outings as a transnational and transcultural ritual amongst men. Merry Sun’s music boxes introduce the familiar sound of her childhood, an old Chinese lullaby… stored in the form of a perforated symphony, activated by your hands, and fed by traces of light falling through branches.
Eiko Nishida’s bark sits nestled amongst the wise roots of Tutu’s multigenerational tree, calling answers from the universe to be held by your hands.
As you head out the door with precious gifts in hand, Owen Park’s farewell letter greets you, asking for your response, unspoken words to be dropped in Tutu’s mailbox - for their feline eyes only. And, don’t forget to snag one of Albert Samreth’s keys and search for a secret lockbox in the city, filled with contents fit for your mischief.
Sam Moussan, Dylan Seh-Jin Kim, & April Z
AGORA is a curatorial practice guided by a site-responsive approach. AGORA focuses on building community for artists and envisions a world in which all communities can participate in the engagement and dialogue centered around art. AGORA was founded by Dylan Seh-Jin Kim and Samuel S.K. Moussan in 2022.
Tutu Gallery is a DIY hybrid space located in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, founded in July 2019 by Tutu (cat) and her human assistant April. Tutu’s aim is to show art slightly “off the wall”, in the space, and with interesting people. As of December 2023, the gallery has presented 33 projects, mostly first solo or two-person shows of emerging international artists. The gallery is featured in i-D and Hyperallergic Spring 2023 Art Guide and has been written by Harper’s BAZAAR China, Whitehot Magazine, BOMB Magazine, and more.