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“Headshop”: Inside Secret Project Robot’s High Art Installation

11.18.14 Rhett Jones

Art shows in Bushwick tend to be one of three types: They either fall into the regurgitated abstract painting/stuff-made-out-of-junk category, the every-once-in-a-while progressive and engaging category, or the free-for-all, “we’re just having fun,” category. Secret Project Robot’s “Headshop” definitively falls into that last designation.secret_robot_head_gif

But by no means should that be considered second, or even third place. In the case of “Headshop,” it’s a mixed bag of colorful art inspired by everything that can be found at the titular home of bongs and incense: Comics, black light posters, tapestries, t-shirts, candles, “pipes,” tarot cards, vinyl, video games, fliers and show promotions. Secret Project Robot, along with Silent Barn and various pop-ups, tend to traffic in exhibitions that are a lot more fun than most galleries. They focus on work that represents an artist, without being overwrought or pretentious.

The works in “Headshop” are by a ton of different illustrators, designers, musicians and programmers. Many of those featured are great artists in their own right — like Jacob Ciocci and Eric Copeland — others are just moonlighting in the visual arts, or presenting a gig flier. What they all have in common, however, is creating a level of chaos that in the olden days would’ve been called “a happening.”

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While there’s not any heavy message or great thought-provoking theme going on here, fun/chaotic qualities are all too often absent from the more snobbish and well-funded galleries to be found around the city. However accidental the timing is, the show almost functions as a big celebration of NYC’s surprise announcement that it will honor weed decriminalization laws. They tapped into the zeitgeist and no one had to rehash notions of relational-aesthetics to do it. Dope.

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(Photos: Marina Galperina, Rhett Jones/ANIMAL New York)