The Bureau of Apology
By Brent Birnbaum
Curated by Daria Brit Shapiro
April 6-27th 2012
video by John Birdsong - about.me/nycbirdsong
Subscribing to the belief that the contemporary artist is an entrepreneur, Brent Birnbaum channels the infamous and legendary traditions of snake oil salesmen and street psychics, in his performative installation, The Bureau of Apology. A real, functioning business in which viewers can partake to absolve themselves of guilt and burden, The Bureau of Apology is as credible as a vision in a crystal ball: it is out of our own necessity that we believe.
A site-specific installation for The LAB Gallery’s “fishbowl” space, The Bureau of Apology is a “family-run” organization, spearheaded by the ever-engaging Brent Birnbaum, clad in an unforgettable purple suit. Considering himself to be “a traveling salesman, snake charmer, and street preacher” rolled into one, the artist has created his own unique brand, that is as relevant as it is irreverent.
A “walk-in sculpture”, that resembles a defunct office, The B.O.A. is replete with outdated consumerist bric-a-brac, re-imagined into sculptural objects- a hallmark of Birnbaum’s work. The artist will appear for a limited number of performances, offering Bureau services to passersby. For the first time, The Lab Gallery will open its doors to admit a limited number of guests to interact with the artist and essentially become part of the performance.
In an effort to break down the boundaries between viewer and artwork, Birnbaum’s work is often interactive, daring visitors to engage on a personal level. The Bureau of Apology will offer conscience-clearing services that range from hand-scribed pre-written and custom apologies, to “house callz”, wherein Birnbaum will appear at a prescribed location to apologize on your behalf.
To ensure that apologies are indeed authentic: all correspondence will bear the official Bureau seal, however, there is no guarantee of honesty, as each participant will ultimately be required to confront themselves in the process.
Brent Birnbaum was born in Dallas, Texas in the year of the snake. He received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2004 and has since been exhibiting internationally to much critical acclaim. Birnbaum’s work has been seen at Stux Gallery, NYC; Winkleman Gallery, NYC and Marianne Boesky Gallery; NYC, in addition to several group shows in Los Angeles and Detroit. With the support of the SCOPE Foundation, Brent Birnbaum’s work was selected by curator Daria Brit Shapiro for a solo feature in SCOPE Miami 2011 and SCOPE New York 2012, where it was met with critical acclaim. Birnbaum’s work is slated to appear in a museum exhibition from the esteemed Sammlung Schroth collection in Germany this Spring.
Daria Brit Shapiro is a Curator, Cultural engineer and Critic of Everything. Currently the Public Relations Director of SCOPE Art Show, Daria is also the Founder & Curator of A.M.F. Projects, while publishing widely on contemporary art, fashion, design & beyond.