The Silent Barn is a new arrival in Brooklyn. Originally located in Queens, but with an abrupt move across the Ridgewood/Bushwick border late last year, the Silent Barn is a community of artists and musicians who work and live and perform in an interactive venue and residence they describe in their manifesto as being a “multi-functional, all-ages incubation space… a petri dish in which to cultivate culture, art, performance, community, residence, curation, and science experiments.”
Silent Barn has been around since 2004 and now has almost fifty people who help to make their collaborative mission a reality. The collective hosts everything from music performances to cooking performances to art installations to a gardening project to a video arcade. We spoke with many of the members of Silent Barn about what makes a space like this so conducive to creative production. Not surprisingly, the answers were as varied as the roles of each person in the group, but it was easy to see how vital each person’s role is to the collective as a whole. Alison Sirico, who works as a kitchen meeting leader, volunteer chef, and in outreach, tells us that she is inspired by the, “resourcefulness and resilience, and pure appreciation of physical space. Brooklyn is very expensive but artists still find unique opportunities to install and showcase work. That against all odds—art will still happen. The geographical setup and pure magnitude of people also affects the community. There are so many artists on top of each other and so much culture happening all the time. We [at Silent Barn] are over-saturated, constantly communicating ideas, and naturally collaborating.” And Brandon Zwagerman, who contributes by working in outreach and public meetings, adds, “Finding small communities that you can understand and feel a part of within the massive matrix is one way to sanely interact with the whole. The Silent Barn has always felt that way to me. It humanizes ‘New York City’ and all the great baggage of meaning and expectation and branding attached to it.” That does seem to be exactly what Silent Barn is all about—giving people the venue to explore what they want to do creatively without having to worry about the pressure cooker that is typical of modern society. And they do it all together, as creative and social pioneers.
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