Helping the Whitney Museum Expand the 2008 Biennial

Art production fund, to the Armory!

In the past, APF has worked on one or two pieces at a time; over the last four months, they've helped produce more than 40 projects for the Biennial. As Force Villareal points out: "There are some projects—like Agathe Snow's week-long series of dance marathons, or Rosenfeld's piece—that we might have focused an entire year on. So it's been intense."

The two women met in 1984 on the first day of art school at the Rhode Island School of Design, where Force Villareal studied painting and Remen architecture. Their first joint venture came while living together in Manhattan during a summer break: To mark the Statue of Liberty's centennial, they sold liberty-crown hats on the Staten Island Ferry. It wasn't until the late '90s, however, that they began their partnership. At the time, Force Villareal ran an art-advisory service and Remen was taking time off from working as an architect to raise her twin girls. They got back together to produce Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft's Show, the high-profile 1998 performance-art piece in which a group of models—some nude, some in bikinis—formed a sort of living tableau in the Guggenheim Museum's atrium. They spent a year and half on it; the budget ballooned from $20,000 to $200,000. But, says Force Villareal, "over 1,500 people came, on a rainy night, and it ended up on the cover of Artforum. So damned exciting! We had produced something—but, we wondered, what did that mean? That's when we started brainstorming, developing what art production is and what it could be."

Though the goal is always to bring contemporary art to a wider audience, their role is redefined with each new project. "We're very much about finding new ways to work," says Force Villareal, who points out that APF has never received government funds: "We've relied on corporate sponsorship and private donations." Recently, they've gotten into designing functional objects, raising money for APF by printing images of contemporary works—by Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, and Kehinde Wiley—on towels and carpets.

Nonprofit, or rock band? Art Production Fund's Yvonne Force Villareal, Casey Freemont, and Doreen Remen at the Park Avenue Armory
Alana Cundy
Nonprofit, or rock band? Art Production Fund's Yvonne Force Villareal, Casey Freemont, and Doreen Remen at the Park Avenue Armory

Perhaps the next step is infiltrating MOMA's design exhibits. It's not as crazy as it might seem—they've crashed the Whitney Biennial and Rockefeller Center in back-to-back weeks.

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