When Stefan Kalmár arrived at the alternative art space Artists Space in the summer of 2009 to become its executive director, he saw plenty of things that he wanted to change.
“The director’s office was a corner office with a vista,” Mr. Kalmár said earlier this month, with a touch of mockery, “symbolizing a petit-bourgeois notion of an institution. There was a real hierarchy.” The robust 41-year-old was wearing a tight sweater, torn near the elbows, over a collared shirt, and was sitting in Artists Space’s third-floor loft on Greene Street, pointing to where various rooms had been. “Next to me was the assistant to the director’s office, and then there was the development office. Like chicken hatches. In this corner was the boardroom, and here was storage and a facility room, and an archive. Everything that an organization doesn’t—shouldn’t—need.”
October 24, 9:00 AM: The group that occupied Artists Space on Saturday after noon, remaining until they were asked to leave yesterday evening, have issued a statement on their Tumblr blog, which provides some background on their action. It begins as follows:
“The occupation at 38 Greene Street ended at 8PM on Sunday October 23rd, 28 hours after it began.
“The administrators of the Artists Space, under the influence of their board of directors, brought in a paid private security force of five to affirm the sanctity of their non-profit private property.
“Earlier, the Executive Director and his minions (apparently ignorant of their own exploitation and unwilling to join in the occupation) had been rudely shoved aside by a fraction of the movement which attempts, in sometimes distorted ways, to develop a critique of the existent. Clinging to the veneer of legitimacy still provided, in some minds, by the non-profit industrial complex, he took advantage of the occupiers’ patience and tolerance to hinder, as best he could, any real flourishing of rebellion in the space he had formerly controlled.
“Threatening and reminding us of the illegal nature of the occupation and his power to bring down the NYPD on our heads, he belligerently intimidated while farcically insisting on his sympathy with the movement. If he did not immediately use police violence to evict the occupation, this was of course only because of his cowardly attachment to his so-called “radical” credentials, status and image.”