Van Dyke, Jonathan, “Promenade Gallery Shows Process,”, June 9, 2011.

How can WikiLeaks and an art exhibition have something in common?

The website that sought to expose classified documents and information all around the world might not have been the whole inspiration for the Open Document exhibition that is set to open downtown this weekend, but its message holds true to what the artists were trying to do, said co-director Jeff Chabot.

“We wanted to address traditional policies of closed doors for planning,” he said. “That was part of our mission, was to let people in as artists were installing (their work). Basically, we were addressing the whole issue of whether information is secure, what documents are available to the public and issues of transparency.”

Chabot is co-director of D-Block Projects, 218 The Promenade, and he and co-director Ed Gomez put together a group of artists who would show their work and curate their own show — the catch was that the entire process would be recorded.

That meant the group of artists would be video-recorded when possible and communications through mediums like e-mail and text messages would be saved. As the process moved forward, it was shared on the gallery’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts.

“As much as we can, we’ve been posting on websites during this month-long process,” Chabot said. “Some of them (the artists) were a little afraid because it seems a little like reality television... Some have addressed the issue and really embraced it.”

The show itself will include artists Janice Gomez, Fatima Hoang, Tucker Neel, Chris Oatey, Jenny Yurshanksky and duo JEFF&GORDON. The work mostly will be installation-type projects: A lima bean fortress (as Chabot describes it), a twine-based project (which partly plays out on their YouTube channel) and a fabric dragon — to name a few.

JEFF&GORDON will display a performance-type piece on opening night.

Yurshanksky said she and some of her peers took the opportunity to make a statement about perception and realities.

“The work I’m installing in the show is sort of a direct conversation with the theme of the show,” she said.

She has created a choose-your-own-adventure book as a companion to the show, placing patrons in the planning process.

“It’s up to you to figure out how to make this exhibition happen,” she said. “The way it is written, some elements are factual and some haven’t occurred, but there is no clear line to what is real or not.”

Her installation includes a mysterious wooden shed-type room that has within it a small table with three boxes (they glow past, present, future). Patrons cannot enter the room, they can only peak through the window or cracks in the door.

Recording the process was a bit off-putting at first, Yurshanksky said, but she and some others quickly embraced it. JEFF&GORDON even snuck in and added spooky effects to recordings without telling anyone, she said, another attempt at distorting and questioning reality.

“You can’t help but be aware of those cameras and you feel yourself shifting a little bit — for me anyway,” she said. “I’m not used to being recorded at every moment of my life.”

Chabot said he has been pleased with the results of this experiment so far. He wants to create a book and a short documentary on the whole experience. When the exhibit opens, people will have access to all the recorded documents so they can get to know this younger generation of artists, he said.

The Open Document exhibition will open from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at D-Block Projects, 218 The Promenade. It will run through June 31. The gallery is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. or by appointment. Visit

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