A Polish Artist Wants You To Draw On The Walls (And Give Up Your Coat)

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The catch-all phrase relational aesthetics covers a wide range of art, much of which doesn’t even involve free Thai curry. Pawel Althamer’s work comfortably falls under this category, as it often incorporates ordinary people (sometimes wearing gold jumpsuits) engaged in activities that are loosely choreographed by the artist. Althamer’s “The Neighbors” opens on February 12 at the New Museum, and it’s notable for two distinctive features that most contemporary art exhibitions are lacking. One is an exhortation to draw on the institution’s walls. The other is a coat drive.

For Draftsmen’s Congress, which Althamer previously debuted at the 2012 Berlin Biennale (pictured above), visitors will be able to augment the physical space of the 4th floor gallery. (No word about content limitations or censorship though–what happens if Voina shows up and wants to recreate Dick Captured By KGB?)

Althamer also plans to have local buskers perform at the New Museum, and he’s involving the New York community in other ways: Anyone who donates a coat receives free admission (normally $16, so nothing to scoff at). The coats go to nearby Bowery Mission, a hold-out from the days when the neighborhood wasn’t a land of boutique hotels and diners serving $22 steak tartare plates.