“Whole in the Wall” interview with the Co-Curators


That’s a grand claim, and the Helenbeck sisters are going to try to back it up in June. The curators of this show are planning to pair New York writers from the 70’s and 80’s with European street art stars of the 00’s and present them in Louis XIV drawing rooms furnished with genuine articles from the period.

The show’s  numbers are grand too; 150+ pieces, 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, 40 years of art.  Promising to shake collectors and historians awake to the relevance of graff and street art in the continuum of fine art, it remains largely unknown what impact this show can have on the street. At the very least, it’s a bold courageous approach to further the ongoing conversation about Street Art’s relevance to the art world.

In the midst of installation, the co-curators of the show, Brigitte & Chantal Helenbeck, give us some insight about their approach and what they hope people will get from the “Whole in the Wall”;

Brooklyn Street Art: Why does this show juxtapose theses genuine antiquities, originally created for the upper classes, with an art form more frequently associated with the working class?

Brigette & Chantal: We think that Street Art has become a real part of the contemporary art scene.  By juxtaposing these Street Art pieces with antiquities we would like to underline the entrance of contemporary street art in the history of art.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you pick one particular pairing of an artwork and an interiors setting in this show that made you laugh with glee?

Brigette & Chantal: We never really laughed, but were often amazed and surprised to notice how two genuine and high quality works of art create a balance and a force between them, no matter which time they belong to.  The audience always finds the pairing interesting.

Brooklyn Street Art: As you know, New York (particularly Brooklyn) is currently experiencing an explosion of new street art.  Are there any particular street artists of the new crop whose work excites you?

Brigette & Chantal: We are in New York also to discover this new crop, which one day we can maybe bring to Europe so that people can discover their works in future exhibitions.  We cannot put out a name, but the spirit of our gallery, which has been an experimental territory for young or acclaimed artists, has definitely been thrilled by the extreme creativity of young artists here in New York.

Brooklyn Street Art: As co-curators and twins, have you had the same vision for this show, or do your tastes differ a great deal?

Brigette & Chantal: We are alike and very different at the same time, but we function as a team and all our final decisions are a mix of our sensitivities and tastes. We find a way to agree at the end, and what people see is a jigsaw version of the two of us.

Brooklyn Street Art: A show of this vast scope must take a huge amount of planning, logistics, and effort.  What has been the most surprising part of the process for you?

Brigette & Chantal: To discover New York in a different way, definitely. We learn from people here every day and this turns out to be an extremely interesting experience. This is the logical direction of our professional path, and also part of a journey that we’ll continue in the future.

Brooklyn Street Art: Popular perception of graff and street art continues to evolve.  When people walk away from the show, what you like them to be thinking?

Brigette & Chantal: We would like them to see that these artists and their works have their place in the contemporary art field and they are part of the future history of art.  We are satisfied when people enjoy our exhibitions and discover new forms of art and new talents. This exhibition in particular is very alive, full of movement, colorful, like the Americans are, and like this city remains despite this difficult economic crisis worldwide.


Whole in the Wall: 1970 to Now

Friday, May 29 to Saturday, June 27
Open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays
529-535 W. 35th St. @ 11th Ave. (former Splashlight Studio)

Helenbeck Gallery