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…And All I Got Was This T-shirt

"Difficult City Souvenir" by Gina Dawson

In January, my friend Dan Evans posted to his Facebook page: “In response to the upcoming Whitney Biennial, my friend and I will be throwing the ‘Bobby’ Biennial. We are now accepting submissions and the only rule is ‘don’t be cruel’. Location is still unknown, much like Bobby himself.” Though the Bobby Biennial began as a joke, it quickly gained a gallery, curator, and participating artists.

And then Whitney died and the joke wasn’t funny.

So Tom Marquet, along with Camel Art Space, reappropriated the essence of the Bobby show as Souvenir, opening Friday, March 16. The show itself is a souvenir, as it’s the gallery’s last show in their Williamsburg space.

“I think what they have in common,” Marquet says of the Bobby Biennial and Souvenir, “is that they are both about these things that are really close to but not actually art. Because the Bobby, just by virtue of being assignment based, this sort of absurd assignment, kind of undermines the seriousness of artists’ practices.”

Souvenir might seem like a pop up shop. “Everything in the show is essentially a take away, something you can put in your bag and take with you,” Marquet adds, explaining that the show explores the parallel ways in which our connection to objects is much like our connection to art.

He says, “It’s this attachment that makes us prefer a particular coffee cup in the morning. It’s this desire for a concrete memory that makes us take a book of matches, even if we don’t smoke. This is a show of objects that court that attachment and are willing to forgo their status as art to get it.”

It’s an apt goodbye for Camel, though it’s not curtains for long. Camel Art Space will reinvent itself soon, this time in Ridgewood, Queens, as Parallel Art Space, at 1717 Troutman.

Souvenir, March 16-18, at Camel Art Space, 722 Metropolitan Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn. Opening reception, March 16, 6-10pm; DJ set at 8pm by JAMS. For more information, camelartspace.com

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