Guild Hall: Offsite Presents ‘SWEPT AWAY: Love Letter to a Surrogate(s)’

As part of Guild Hall: Offsite, “SWEPT AWAY: Love Letter to a Surrogate(s),” the second and final exhibition of 2022, will commence on September 10 and run for four consecutive Saturdays through October 1, from 7 to 10PM at East Hampton’s Main Beach. The project was conceptualized by Warren Neidich who created the successful Drive by Art event in 2020. It is co-curated and co-coordinated by Christina Mossaides Strassfield, Museum Director and Chief Curator of Guild Hall, Anuradha Vikram, Los Angeles based independent curator, and Los Angeles based conceptual artist Renee Petropoulos. 

In reference to the East Hampton event, Strassfield remarked, “With Guild Hall being under renovation we felt this was a wonderful way to bring accessible art to our community and have everyone feel welcome and enjoy themselves. We are delighted to have the chance to expand the museum’s reach through our collaboration with our West Coast partners.” 

“Swept Away: Love Letter to a Surrogate(s) is a community-oriented artistic project that aims to create a transcontinental heartbeat across America,” said Neidich. Sixty-five artists from Los Angeles will write sets of instructions, in the form of love letters, to an equal number of artists from the East End of Long Island who will then perform them in an open and improvisational way at the waters’ edge in front of the pavilion at Main Beach in East Hampton. In the spring the reverse will occur; with East End artists writing love letters to LA artists to be executed at Will Rogers State Beach, Santa Monica in conjunction with the 18th Street Arts Center. 

Swept Away, 2022. Photo by Joe Brondo for Guild Hall

Regarding the Los Angeles happenings, Anuradha Vikram and Renee Petropoulos shared “Over two consecutive days, West Coast artists will respond to prompts submitted by their East Coast counterparts that address themes of deep ecology and the interdependence of humans with other living beings and ecological networks. Each artist will be limited to using only what they and their collaborators can carry to the shoreline and retrieve at the close of their action.” 

These “Art Happenings,” borrowing a term of Allan Kaprow, who’s famous Happening #3 was performed in East Hampton in August, 1966, will likewise create ephemeral performative gestures and time-based works. They might take the form of building a sandcastle, singing a song, reciting poetry, dancing, surfing, making a sculpture that interacts with the tide, interventions with shells, doing a light projection, picking up garbage on the beach, etc. 

The community is invited to enjoy the performances amidst the pounding of the surf which will act, on one hand, as an acoustical backdrop and, on the other, as a reminder of the importance of the sea in the prevention of ecological degradation brought on by climate change. Its protection is imperative and as Neidich has stated, “It is hoped that through these combined experimental gestures and performances, a sense of solidarity between local and national artists and their respective diverse communities will emerge, and through them, new innovative social tools and structures with which to confront the ecological catastrophe.” 


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