How CultureWorks Is Bringing Art Back Into New York City After COVID

How CultureWorks Is Bringing Art Back Into New York City After COVID

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How CultureWorks Is Bringing Art Back Into New York City After COVID

The newly merged NeueHouse + Fotografiska (now CultureWorks) celebrated the return of events in NYC by hosting a variety of experiences across both properties for FRIEZE.

The newly merged NeueHouse + Fotografiska (now CultureWorks) celebrated the return of events in NYC by hosting a variety of experiences across both properties for FRIEZE.

Text: Kevin Ponce

If you’re familiar with Fotografiska, the branch of the Swedish photography museum whose popular New York location is in Manhattan's Flatiron District, and NeueHouse, the company that offers collaborative workspaces and cultural services in New York and Los Angeles, then news of the recent merger operated by CultureWorks that combines the two art powerhouses has got you and New York City excited for new artistic possibilities. CultureWorks, having hosted a number of arts events over Frieze week in New York City, notably kicked off Frieze this past week with “Wide Awakes”, an open-source network of artists who are reimagining the future of art and its relationship with collaboration. With a conversation between Hank Willis Thomas, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Tracey Ryans and a discussion with Gagosian director and curator Antwaun Sargent and critic and curator Emily Watlington about the latest issue of ‘Art in America’, the two events were then topped off with an intimate dinner at NeueHouse’s sister property Veronika and drinks at Chapel Bar (which is expected to re-open with a new members-only concept in June!)

Antwaun Sargent and Emily Watlingtonthe

As a precursor of what’s to come with the new partnership, NeueHouse and Frieze joined forces for the launch of Resident by Frieze & NeueHouse, a “culture pass” that brings international, members-only access to all Frieze Art Fairs via the Frieze 91 programming with original content and programming, providing a touchpoint for global members to connect and witness art events, dining experiences, and benefits from its global partners.

As we toasted to the return of art, culture, and fabulous nightlife in NYC, V’s Kevin Ponce spoke with CEO Josh Wyatt  about the deeper meaning behind the merger, how the new company is bringing people back together for the first time since COVID took over our beloved hometown, and how art can continue to live on through collaboration.

Josh Wyatt, Antwaun Sargent, and Yoram Roth at Veronika

Kevin Ponce: How did the merging of NeueHouse and Fotografiska (now CultureWorks) come to be?

Josh Wyatt: Well, the pandemic forces bold action and really thinking about moments in time where you can shift the perspective and momentum of a team, a company, a brand. We saw that from a mutual perspective, with respect to both of these brands, and said “Wait a minute, we’re actually sort of kindred spirits. We are kindred brands.” and [from there], it all came together. We keep saying [that] it's like two siblings separated at birth [that have] now found each other. This has been the most simpatico, joyful coming together of two companies because it's not always like that but just the culture fit between the people, investors, and the brands is just so spot on, so for us, it was no brainer.

KP: In your words, what is the common link that connects the two brands?

JW: I think the common link is a community, right? On the NeueHouseside, we're a community of creative people that are focused on high performance, creative work environments, where companies and individuals can come in and incubate an idea and then bring it all the way from, from concept to completionall wrapped within this context of high design and hospitality. [It’s about] like-minded people bouncing off each other within the four walls, the same thing here. So for [Fotografiska], normally there are people bouncing off the creative spaces of the exhibitions and like-minded people share a vision. There is this vibrational effect of art, photography, and community coming together. The only difference is here, you're consuming culture, whereas in a NeueHouse, you're creating culture. So that virtuous cycle of both really comes together quite nicely between the two.

NeueHouse

 

KP: Is there a certain project from the NeueHouse and Fotografiska merge that you would say is a good representation of what could happen when brands collide?

JW: Frieze Week is a perfect example where we were able to go out to a global partner [like Frieze] and say, look, there are actually many different things we can do here from different angles so that it's not just about a NeueHouse or Fotografiska and both come together. Another example is an exhibit that we did in Los Angeles, where we had a pop-up with Alison Jackson, who’s a very well-known, British photographer who plays with the concept of truth. NeueHouse fronted that show as a pop-up in Fotografiska in Hollywood and we were able to meld together the NeueHouse creative experience by bringing together people and companies to see the art and then the Fotografiska experience of coming through and consuming.

KP: What I think is brilliant is that you can see the process of the beginning, middle, and end. It's almost like a story being told here.

JW: I mean, It's obviously been a very challenging year for everyone, [but] even in the deep dark depths of 2020/21, I was always brought back to a sense of optimism about my personal future and the future of these companies, because of what we're doing.

Fotografiska

KP: With this new generation that is creating, interpreting, and discovering art via NeueHouse and Fotografiska, what is it about art that makes you want to continue? 

JW: Well, I think that post-pandemic time is more important than ever. I think because the sense of mortality has crept into our consciousness, really for the first time ever in our generation. This is the first time in 40 years that some type of event has happened that has forced us to look inward. You then take a step back and start to think about legacy and you start to think about what really is important. Oftentimes, it comes down to results. So a book, a piece of art, cutting a record, writing a play, or whatever it may beit's something arguably that lasts. That sense of creating art is now more than ever reminding people that there is a legacy to be made because time is short. The tagline for NeueHouse is “Bring something, take something, build something new” and the creative process is about working with people, taking some ideas and being inspired, but then putting it back into the movement. So approaching it from that perspective for both companies is what really led us on our North star journey to bring it all together.

KP: Since you touched upon legacy, what do you hope that the legacy for CultureWorks would be?

JW: I hope we inspire an entire generation of creators, entrepreneurs, and artists to dream big and to give them the platform to achieve their dreams. At the end of the day, whether it's displaying their work here or giving them space to create, I think that's for us our core mission.

Credits: Event photography: Courtesy of Sansho Scott

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