The Silent Barn in Ridgewood used to be a place to go if you wanted to hear music or see something strange, but not spend a ton of money. Now, the people who ran (and lived in) the space are looking to make it something much more than that.
Last Friday, the people behind Silent Barn held their first public meeting on the group’s future at Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood. The event, which also featured live music and art installations, focused not only on the future of Silent Barn, but on the notion of how to keep a space like it functioning after suffering a misfortune similar to one that befell the hosts.
Silent Barn used to run shows and art exhibitions out of a building on Wyckoff Avenue that also served as the home of the people who took care of the space. However, the unconventional (and illegal) nature of the building led to a number of run-ins with the law over licensing and occupancy issues. The group also suffered what appeared to be a fatal blow in July 2011 when several pieces of recording and musical equipment were stolen during a break-in.
Out of adversity, though, comes hope. A Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the Silent Barn and its displaced curators-in-residence netted $40,000. While the group is still looking for a space to both live in and host events at, the overall mood among the crowd at Gottscheer Hall was optimistic.
While the live show, featuring Long Island pop band Twin Sister and Brooklyn-based band Ava Luna, was a major draw for many of the young attendees, the event was designed to be something more than just a rock show. An experimental sonic art project using hidden microphones in the hall was featured, and the event also included a panel discussion with members of various art collectives throughout the city on the nature of do-it-yourself live and work spaces in an ever-changing New York.
“Something that we’ve noticed is that once a space like that is gone, the community around it disbands,” said Jason Eppink, a panel speaker and a member of the Flux Factory group in Long Island City. “It takes a lot of time and energy to recover from that and to rebuild that community.”
The panel speakers also touched on why spaces like the old Silent Barn are important for encouraging creativity within a community.
“You have to realize that you have to create,” Eppink said. “Don’t just get angry about the world you want that doesn’t exist; make that world for yourself.”
“It amazes me that ‘DIY’ is considered this genre tag when it’s really just the most basic concept in the world,” said G Lucas Crane, a member of the Silent Barn collective who also spoke on the panel. “People ask me what ‘DIY’ sounds like or what it is all the time, but they seem to forget that it stands for something: you do it yourself.”
Noting the collaborative efforts of everyone involved in the night’s proceedings, Crane corrected himself: “More accurately, you do it with others.”
Plans for a new, improved — and legal — Silent Barn include experimental sound equipment, art and other cultural projects. The group is looking at spaces in neighborhoods including Long Island City, Ridgewood and Corona.
Anyone who wants to get more involved can visit the Silent Barn Facebook page or email the group firstname.lastname@example.org.