By Jennifer Glickel
SOHO — Break out that smartphone if you want to find some free artwork in Manhattan.
In an innovative fusion of art and technology, one SoHo gallery is sending New Yorkers on an urban treasure hunt for artwork with the help of the mobile social media application Foursquare.
"Mission: Edition” is a show of limited edition prints by six artists opening on Thursday at Christina Ray gallery in SoHo. The exhibition will be accompanied by a social media-powered scavenger hunt in which additional copies of the prints being shown will be scattered throughout New York City for people to find and keep as gifts via location announcements made on Foursquare.
"The gallery is focused on exhibitions, but whenever possible I like to include fun aspects that take people outside of the gallery to explore the city they’re living in,” gallery director Christina Ray said.
"The idea is to inspire people explore the city with the possibility that they might be able to pick up some cool artwork in the process.”
The prints will be left rolled up in tubes at various kinds of spots, such as bars, parks, or libraries. Because of the inherently public nature of such locations, Ray acknowledged that passersby could snag the artwork before those participating in the scavenger hunt would have the opportunity to figure out and reach the hiding spot.
"Some of the prints might just disappear if they get left on a park bench and are picked up before we can check in on Foursquare,” Ray told DNAinfo.
"But that’s the point — it sends people on a mission for something that they may or may not actually be able to find,” she added.
Guest co-curators Genevieve and Liz Dimmitt of Gawker Artists selected original artworks to be re-interpreted as prints for the gallery show by contemporary artists Ryan Brennan, Amanda Burnham, Judith Hoffman, Joe Iurato, Pim Palsgraaf and Alex Waxman.
Ray conceived of this project, drawing on her experience producing numerous public-space events including the annual Conflux Festival in New York.
"’Mission: Edition’ really ties into the festival, which is grounded in the concept of psychogeography, which is about how we are influenced by space and how we understand our relationship to it,” Ray said.
The director said she chose Foursquare instead of Twitter as the medium to give hints and reveal the print gift locations because it is particularly suited to location-based messages. For those who don’t use Foursquare, but use Twitter, the gallery will link location updates to the exhibit's Twitter feed. All together there will be about 30 prints that will go out over a matter of weeks.
The scavenger hunt coincides with the show’s opening on Thursday. There is a public reception at the gallery on July 15 and the show will continue until Aug. 1. Ray advises people to start looking at the exhibit’s Foursquare and Twitter accounts on the first day of the exhibit.
"The day of the opening could probably be a good day to find prints in our neighborhood, around SoHo or in Chinatown,” Ray said with a proverbial wink.
"Mission: Edition” opens on Thursday at Christina Ray gallery and runs through August 1st. The gallery is located at 30 Grand Street between Thompson Street and Sixth Avenue.