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“Birth of a Nation”
at Exit Room Gallery

04.11.14 Bucky Turco

Last week, ANIMAL attended “Birth of a Nation,” an ironically titled group show referencing D. W. Griffith’s notorious KKK propaganda film of the same name. It took place at the Exit Room Gallery in Brooklyn and features the work of LNY, Mata Ruda, NDA, Sonni, and Icy & Sot, collectively calling themselves Ñewmerica — an unpretentious, likeminded and diverse band of artists and friends.

“We’re all immigrants from all over the place,” Iranian-born artist Icy tells ANIMAL about the newly formed creative cooperative. “But we’re all doing the same, so we decided to start working together.”

Inside the 1500 square foot space founded by Dariel Mtz and Daniela Zoe, the artists installed canvasses, embellished found objects, and other mixed media works. The centerpiece is a custom-constructed bodega, La Inmortal Deli.

Ñewmerica describes it as a “market place where all gather to eat, smoke, gossip, listen, observe, pray, dream, gamble, drink, or just chill.” But they aren’t selling loosies or cups of ice out of the installation. Instead, it features stenciled cigarette packs and a series of hand-painted bottles, each bearing the unique stylings of the respective artists.

The canvasses on the walls range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but the work in the bodega — in true bodega fashion — is much more affordable.

According to the press release, the exhibit “serves as a mirror reflecting the contemporary realities of communities that are constantly in flux.” This is why La Inmortal Deli is in a state of foreclosing, shutting down. As LNY told ANIMAL, “The bodega is being used as an icon of a decaying history of the city.”

“Birth of a Nation,” Ñewmerica, through April 19th, Exit Gallery, Brooklyn (Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)