Olivia Bonilla during Alternative Space Weekend, 2018

Altered State

A photo essay. To view all 40 images, check out the email version.

Drop the first “n” from Alternative Space Weekend—the weekend during City-Wide Open Studios when the festival reconfigures a non-arts location into an arts complex—and the name would be just as appropriate. Last weekend at Yale West Campus, using infrastructure built by previous occupant Bayer Pharmaceutical, more than 250 local and regional artists converted former offices, conference rooms, storage closets and who knows what else into their own unique galleries for CWOS’s 2018 finale.

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Joyful Learning at Cold Spring School

Some transformations were quite dramatic. Assigned to an interior office space, Olivia Bonilla painted cream walls white, covered beige carpet with black and white checkerboard, added shelves to the walls and installed her own lighting, both white and red. The idea was to create the bones of a classic gallery, then flesh it out with retro atmosphere to complement the nostalgic components—like the Hot Wheels lacing a gypsum cement cupcake—in some of her works.

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The Escher String Quartet - Yale School of Music

Over at the Center for Adult Swaddling—a cheeky yet serious “experimental relaxation space” commissioned by the festival in accordance with its “Wellbeing” theme—there was a doctor’s office with mock certification on the wall, an examination room with an acronymous SWADDLE poster and, most important, a custom-matted floor where festival attendees could get their swaddle on, either mummy-style (with heads unwrapped) or cocoon-style (wrapped all the way). Plush sculptures were hung from the ceiling and colorful veils were draped over the mummies’ faces, adding color therapy to the mix. A soothing soundtrack helped create what Chen Reichert, one of the commission’s contributors, describes as “the adult version of the womb… and then you kind of come back out and you’re reborn into the art world when you emerge.”

Art doesn’t only change spaces, after all; it also changes people.

City-Wide Open Studios 2018 – Alternative Space Weekend
Yale West Campus – 100 West Campus Dr (map)
October 26-28, 2018

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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