Are You Free on Saturday from 4-7 PM? is an installation of hundreds of handmade pronouncements collected by poet Dr. Kenneth Goldsmith from the streets and subways of New York City over the past four decades. The works on view range from scary to silly, from terse suggestions to indecipherably complex amalgams of mathematical figuring, philosophical posturing, and political ranting. The entreaties tend to the impassioned and visceral. Whether the ideas are presented in uniquely beautiful calligraphy or scribbled, illegible palimpsests, the creators all seek to have their ideas recognized, many silently urging their fellow New Yorkers to right wrongs both personal and universal.
Goldsmith has long collected these mostly anonymous proclamations because he sees them—whether obsessive, splenetic, militant, psychically intense or just plain fascinating— as the work of fellow poets. The title of this exhibition is taken from a quote from one of his found postings, which has ten tear-off tabs at the bottom, nine say “YES,” one says “NO” - the everlasting wonderment created by the fact that the who, what, where, and why of this invitation will likely never surface.
Together, Goldsmith and curator Harley Spiller aim to explore the mystery of street poets and further public dialogue about their heady, provocative, and artful expressions. The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of Goldsmith’s recent book, NYC Street Poets and Visionaries (JBE Books, Paris, 2023).
Kenneth Goldsmith (b. 1961) is an American poet and critic living in New York City. He has published thirty-two books including ten of poetry. Since 2020, he has been the ongoing artist-in-residence at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also teaches. In 2013, he was appointed the Museum of Modern Art’s first poet laureate. In 1996, Goldsmith founded UbuWeb, an online archive of hundreds of thousands of freely downloadable avant-garde artifacts.
Harley Spiller (b. 1959) is an artist, collector, and the Ken Dewey Director of Franklin Furnace Archive. His book Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015) was selected by the New York Times as one of the top ten art books of the year. Spiller’s collections have been exhibited internationally including at apexart (New York), the New York State Museum (Albany), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), and Museo de Bellas Artes (Caracas).