With more than 50 art galleries, Bushwick’s art scene has to be the most vibrant in the city and one of the most densely populated art spaces in the world. Among the current exhibits in the neighborhood is Peggy Ahwesh’s Kissing Point, on view in Microscope Gallery at 1329 Willoughby Avenue.
The geographical place known as the Kissing Point is the border between Israel and Palestine. The artist explains the exhibit’s title in these words: “Erotic undertones flavor the meaning of the term, offering the potential of interaction and a flirtation with ‘the other,’ giving these junctures a psychological dynamic and more than a bit of ironic interplay.”
Images of a shopping mall, a construction site, an apartment, and a nightclub are overshadowed by those of an almost other-worldly landscape of dusty desolation, populated by stray dogs and bordered by concrete walls reminiscent of the one in Berlin that fell in 1989. It’s hard to see these walls without hoping they’ll suffer the same fate.
The projected videos, a collaboration of the artist and cinematographer Nida Sinnokrot, run for about 15 minutes but you’ll want to watch them at least twice to absorb the experience. Speakers transmit accompanying sounds of this environment, including the beeps of a truck backing up and the barking of dogs, creating an immersive experience. In addition to those images your attention will be drawn to a totem pole of monitors to your left and smaller pieces to your right.
On the 5 monitors you can watch a 5-minute animation titled “Lessons of War” that appears to be a video game but is actually a YouTube news report on the conflict, complete with graphics of tunnels, exploding bombs, and the people living through a never-ending war.
A table to the right of the room as you face the video projection is illuminated by a single small flashlight. Pick up the flashlight to view “Souvenirs”: three small packages of “rocks, newspaper, and detritus” decorated with colorful stamps and the artist’s address in the town of Catskill, NY, a town so remote from the border between Israel and Palestine as to be jarring in its juxtaposition.
To get to Microscope Gallery take the L train to Jefferson Street, walk east one block on Wycoff Ave and make a left onto Willoughby Ave. If you drive there’s plenty of street parking. Enter the open garage at 1329 Willoughby and go up one flight of stairs. The last door on the left opens into Peggy Ahwesh’s visions. Peggy Ahwesh: Kissing Point runs through January 4. The gallery is open Thursdays-Mondays from 1-6PM, and by appointment.