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Crown Heights Artists Transform Industrial Building Into Primordial 'Cave'

By Sonja Sharp | November 8, 2013 4:14pm
 Artists are partying and performing in a man-made cave in a Dean Street basement.
Artists are partying and performing in a man-made cave in a Dean Street basement.
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Laura Cuille

CROWN HEIGHTS — These Brooklyn artists are taking underground to a whole new level. 

A group of Crown Heights artists have transformed their 2,000-square-foot studio at 964 Dean St. into a stalactite-filled cave where performance art morphs into all-night parties.

"We had this whole after-party planned so people could be in the cave and dance in the cave after the performance piece was done," sculptor Laura Cuille said of the enormous project, which she began constructing from chicken wire, plaster and burlap nearly a year ago. "People were really kind of astonished by this cave in the basement of an industrial building.

"It’s definitely a space completely transformed," she added.

The artists will put on their second show this weekend and are considering extending the life of the project.

"People keep saying they want more dates," music director Don Panicko said of the space. "I just can’t believe she did it by herself." 

Inspired by Carl Jung's exploration of the unconscious, "Red Book," the sprawling piece features dancers, musicians, life-size sculptures and very little light. 

"It’s very dark obviously, because it’s a cave. But it’s also dark in the sense of a feeling," Panicko said.

Despite the work's haunting themes, Cuille and Panicko said reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. 

"Just the fact that it exists in Brooklyn is really cool," Panicko said. "I heard a lot of people say, 'This is the kind of Brooklyn stuff that I want to be around — this underground cave-type thing, people creating and collaborating in a spot that no one would even think.' It’s really magical."