By Jen Hitchings

Rachael Pazdan, the Vis-a-Vis founder herselfThe festival celebrating DIY culture in Brooklyn, Vis-a-Vis took place over the course of 3 days in 3 different DIY venues (Vaudeville Park, BK Fire Proof, House of Yes). Each night was filled with entrepreneurs and creatives alike, each contributing in their own way throughout a variety of artistic outlets. Many got a chance to meet others who had similar goals and achievements. Some of the participating DIY collective members or founders had years of experience, and others were just starting out as little tadpoles in the overwhelmingly artistic sea of Bushwick. We couldn’t miss it, and these were the moments that won’t be forgotten….

The first night of the festival was held at Vaudeville Park.  Ian Colletti moderated a panel discussion, which included a skype conference with members of Spread Art (Bushwick and Detroit), the founders of Morsel Gallery (Bushwick in the early 2000’s), Esther Neff and Brian McKorkle from Performancey Forum, and other collective participants who focused on theatre, experimental music, and performance. The discussion informed the audience of the various stories, trials, and tribulations which come with running (oftentimes illegal) spaces and events in run-down city neighborhoods.

The second night at Brooklyn Fire Proof  was filled with live music (including one incredibly talented and upbeat drummer/DJ that Rachael met while he was busking on a subway platform), artwork curated by Jen Hitchings (that’s me), a discussion about the functionality of the contemporary art world, and a very intimate and encompassing dance performance put on by Co-Lab (we reviewed the performance separately here).

The last night of the festival took place at the House of Yes. Performers in flashy garb danced while waiting for a drink at the bar. You couldn’t tell if someone was sincerely trying to engage you in a conversation or if they were performing and you were unknowingly participating in their fantasy world. There were smoke machines, loud beats, masks, glitter, and lots of skin.


By the end of the festival, I’d realized I had not been exposed to such a variety of performances and discussions at any single event since living in the city. Vis-a-Vis left me hoping that more events like this one would sprout up in Brooklyn.