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Bushwick Gallery Plans to Create a List of 200 Influential People, Meets Aggressive Response [Updated]

In Bushwick, Fuchs Projects, a contemporary art gallery with a special focus on photography, has announced the creation of an ambitious project called the “Bushwick 200

Anticipation, courtesy of Rafael Fuchs

In Bushwick, Fuchs Projects, a contemporary art gallery with a special focus on photography, has announced the creation of an ambitious project called the “Bushwick 200.”

Fuchs Projects are compiling 200 of the most influential Bushwick people in “the Arts, Restaurants and Bars, Music, performing arts, Entertainment, Health, Real Estate, Gaming, Design and Hi-tech." This coming Friday, the gallery director Rafael Fuchs and his team plan to reveal more than 50% of the names on the list at a toast at the gallery at 56 Bogart St. The full list will be presented by the end of the year.

UPDATE: On January 7, Rafael Fuchs informed us that the gallery decided to cancel Friday event: "We Don’t wish to cause any trauma to anyone and any grief to the community, neither to create a platform that will ignite unnecessary violence. We cannot tolerate any racial and hate notions and comments from anyone. Fuchs projects is an art gallery, not a social organization, and we will continue our program, exhibiting innovative and challenging works in different media, especially photography," read their statement. The project itself might take on another form, according to Rafael Fuchs. 

The “Bushwick 200” has created a significant amount of anxiety among a handful of residents, judging by the number of reactions, questions, and concerns that have flooded the event’s Facebook feed.

After addressing many of them, Fuchs Projects disabled and deleted the comments this morning. (However, Bedford and Bowery has screenshots.)

“We are open to well-manners, intelligent discussion, with the expectation that people won’t have any PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS,” the gallery posted in the event.

A couple of commenters pointed out that the list is offensive; others objected to the inclusion of a real estate category in a rapidly gentrifying Bushwick.

“It should be a conversation about art, not about gentrification and race,” Rafael Fuchs told us this morning. “Naturally, I can’t avoid that discussion. But this aggression about racial issues—I don’t want to have it on my platform. These people, and you can count them on one hand, have their own agendas unrelated to our concept.”

“This list is not about total revenues, the fastest growing company or the most exhibited artist,” Fuchs Projects wrote in the Facebook event. “It’s about men and women who have been transforming the conventional. These are the people that are understanding the field they are engaged with, and have the vision to introduce new methods, ideas or products.”

The gallery says that in order to compile the list they have enlisted the help of more than a dozen experts in different fields of art and commerce.

“I don’t have an official panel,” Rafael explained to us. “We take notes from the community and cross-reference our references. You can call it a community research. I invited the critics to come and be advisors as well.”

Rafael Fuchs further explained that for him personally “Bushwick 200” is primarily about art. “I gave myself a year to work on it and honestly right now I don’t know what it is going to be,” Rafael continued. "The reaction has been overwhelming and we're considering hiring security for Friday night's toast," he told us.

Photographer and artist Rafael Fuchs, originally from Tel Aviv, has resided in “Morgantown” since 2005. His photographs of Bushwick of the last decade are well-known and sought after documentary works about this neighborhood. Rafael's project titled "Bushwick Yearbook" is a collection of portraits of his friends, neighbors, and other Bushwick locals photographed against an intentionally tacky background. Rafael refused to confirm if “Bushwick 200” will be similar in its execution.

Since 2012, Rafael has been operating Fuchs Projects gallery out of the prominent 56 Bogart St building, representing emerging Bushwick artists at New York, Miami, and international art fairs.

Since 1998, when TIME magazine published their first TIME 100, a list of 100 most influential people in the world, many media organizations have followed suit and compiled influence lists of their own. Media organizations have assumed the authority to judge who should be on their list based on the depth of their knowledge about a particular industry or a subject.

Fuchs Projects is probably the first art gallery to tackle a similar task, even though Rafael Fuchs hints that his execution will not be traditional. “This is my painting, and I have just started to paint,” he described the project metaphorically.

In any case, the weight of any influence list depends on the list-maker's level of the influence. One interpretation of the community's involvement in, and even the reaction to, “Bushwick 200” thus far is that the community cares deeply about the list that Fuchs Projects compiles.

It’s also important to note that influence lists almost always come with a dose of controversy and resentment. To label a certain number of people as influential implies that everybody else who didn’t make the list lacks influence. And to be included on an influence list itself can increase a person's ability to influence the public. Naturally, in this day and age of social media and celebrity, perceived influence is a valued social currency.

"The Bushwick 200," Fuchs Projects, 56 Bogart St., East Williamsburg, Friday, January 8, 6-9PM. 



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