New exhibit turns Xs and Os into art

Members of MINT Collective spent spring break playing basketball in Brooklyn.

That is, they installed the first iteration of their “Will Play for Space” project in New York as part of the Spring/Break Art Show. It was the first formal work by the collective since it moved out of its former space at 42 W. Jenkins St. on Columbus' South Side. MINT will follow up with the next in this ongoing project Saturday at Skylab Gallery Downtown.

“Will Play for Space” will change based on where it's presented, not only given the different physical configurations of host spaces, but also as a commentary and conversation on the notion of space as it relates to DIY arts programming. This conversation is clearly informed by the March loss of the collective's leased gallery/performance space, but is not limited to it.

“I'm constantly getting asked, ‘What happened to MINT?' or, ‘Is MINT over now?'” member Ethan Schaefer said. “I am still thinking about MINT in the present tense.”

“Even without a space, we've been meeting frequently and we have this kind of nomadic programming going on,” member Marisa Espe said. “That's why we can do this without [our own] building, because at its core MINT is a collective.”

None of which is to suggest that space isn't a valuable commodity in the art-making community. Indeed, “Will Play for Space” wrestles with such issues — issues that include access, DIY ethics and civic and government support for artist-run initiatives.

“It started as a joke, because the MINT gallery space could have been suited for a basketball court, and we had this funny idea to have a tournament with all the artist-run spaces in Columbus,” Espe said. “It never happened, and now it can't.”

Instead, the tourney concept inspired thinking related to space and access. “And not just the physical space, but administrative and social aspects of it,” Espe said, “to show the challenges and hurdles and limitations.”

“DIY is almost always about times of autonomy and times where it's more nebulous and nomadic,” Schaefer said. “With or without a space, this is looking at the idea behind DIY and how we're thinking about it.”

The installation itself is participatory. Patrons will be invited to play on a stylized basketball court, with their movements tracked as Xs and Os, like the diagram of a play. Throughout the course of the night, the gallery will become a drawing itself based on the placements of those markings.

“The art will happen as people come and engage with it,” Schaefer said.