Archive for May, 2009

Taurobolium: De Pirro + Williams

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Taurobolium from Nick De Pirro on Vimeo.

As promised, albeit rather late, here is the mostly edited two-camera video sequence from Taurobolium. Thanks to freelance videographer Brian McGinn, and Mark Remollino of Ambush for the camera work; editing by Project Studios. The original audio composition was created Brian Beard. This is documentation footage. The artwork is the performance, this is not intended to be a replacement for it.

Taurobolium was performed for the Hoboken Studio Tour event October 19. 2008. I just recently got my paws on the second DV tape, so the delay is now over. We created a small-scale poster campaign for the show using my big Xerox Phaser. The first poster uses the infamous Neumann emblem and the second poster usurps a Frederick Remington image of a steer being roped for branding. The Phaser can print wax right to heavy printmaking paper, so the posters had a good weight to them and looked like they came from a silkscreen shop.



Taurobolium Poster with Neumann Emblem

Taurobolium Poster with Remington Image


I might as well describe a bit of what this performance was about. At the time, the Neumann Leathers factory complex was the center of a development and zoning dispute in Hoboken. From the start, I was always skeptical and am still convinced that the developers will get their hands on the property very soon.Taurobolium was representative of the face offs that were very literally happening once a month at Hoboken City Hall. Ian and I wanted to create a face off of our own, borrowing loosely from the Agamemnon battle scene from Time Bandits. The minotaur is a anthropomorphized factory, and the gladiator is progress, development, etc. Taurobolium is a historical term describing a Roman practice of bull sacrifice, and in this case, the tragic figure of the Minotaur, with the unfortunate circumstances of his conception, is a perfect representation of the factory. Dirty, toxic, neglected, and exploited, the factory stands to loose. Progress wears him down like a matador wears down his opponent through tricks and choreography. The bull only knows the basic rules for fighting and can’t see what is really happening to him.

Visually, the piece consists of two performers, a twelve-foot clay powder circle ringed by a plaster powder stripe. The space is a derelict room in the Neumann Leathers factory on the ground floor. The space is unused and thick with dust. It also contains a massive tumbler used in the tanning process. The tumbler room is lit from the inside, so spectators can get a good look at its details. The Neumann Leathers logo crest is outlined in white plaster in the center of the clay ring. The bovine character’s body is coated in wet clay slip. Additional wet clay leeches out of a yoke around his neck built of bundled leather strips made in the former factory itself. The bovine mask is a modified and exaggerated bull skull with a maine and a tail that drags at his feet.

The opponent wears the clothing of a factory worker, including a leather apron, work gloves, boots, and coveralls. He is dusted with clay powder, and wears an elaborate Roman centurion’s helmet. He is a hybrid figure having the features of both destroyer of the minotaur and the maker of leather goods.

This battle, for me, is the perfect model for the labyrinthine machinations of a development project as it engages the target and destroys it. Every word and every maneuver is dubious. The old factory that served a purpose becomes an anathema and must be destroyed so that the future can take its path and forget its mistakes.

I suppose the factory itself is a labyrinth as well, with the Taurobolium at the center of the maze, but this is perhaps the first read of the piece. The factory is a maze in a very practical sense, an unknown black spot for most of the residents of Hoboken. If for some viewers, this is the maximum depth of meaning for the performance, we would be satisfied. The battle itself is intended to carry the underlying narrative of the battle between the future and past, or in the site specific context, development versus the past. Whether or not the viewer sees the link between themselves and the matador is another question altogether.

As the performance progresses, the audio track becomes more energetic and the face off of the performers gets a little more aggressive. It is all posturing and compensating; a chase. The clay and plaster drawing becomes destroyed by charging feet, and the bull eventually crashes into the center of the ring, wiping out the emblem.

A few links to other images and stories from the event are below. There was not much press, mostly because Hoboken’s art scene is pretty weak no matter what they tell you.’s Jersey Journal

Photo of one of the posters

Studio Tour Map


Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

On a regular basis I find vandalized corporate material around NYC. I am not talking about graffiti, which has its own dynamic. I am only referring to straight up advertisement damage. I like what I see. It is pretty pure expression in a form that is very different from graffiti, which can sometimes be pretty boring because it is getting more and more absorbed into corporate identities and campaigns. Ad vandalism isolates the attack element of graffiti from the creative or drawing side. Some of these are hacked up with knives, others appear to be some kind of solvent smear. For me, because of what I am into, they recall image hacking from ancient Egypt. One of the best that I have seen was a poster promoting a condominium in Jersey City that was re-postered with an anti-condo image with text that described lower class displacement. I missed my opportunity to get a good shot of that one, unfortunately. These are all iPhone shots at this stage. I don’t have the conviction to seek them out with a real camera. This is strictly off the cuff. I think my second solvent attack image is a little blurry. 

A Note About the Company

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Founded in 2007, Project Studios is an art services company with a mission to provide creative services, private studio spaces, and membership-based studio gym space. The main studios are housed in the R. Neumann and Co. factory complex in Hoboken, New Jersey. Project Studios also provides technology services for arts organizations, creative companies, and individuals.

Our purpose is to support the arts using a small business model rather than a sales or grants model because we believe that art can be profitable for individuals within their own studio practice. This is achieved by providing inexpensive studio space, shop space, shared workspaces, and exhibition opportunities so that artists can function as professionals even without substantial income.

Our mission is to increase the creative footprint in Hoboken and elevate the status of creative practice in the community.

Our Services

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Project Studios provides the following principle services to artists and creatives through our company or one of the other creative groups that we work with.

Web Development

Simple to complex site launches featuring CMS/PHP, Flash, or just HTML/CSS. iPhone app development, etc. We are always looking to improve those old clunky sites out there. It’s good for our clients and good for the internet!

Mac and Windows Support

We support Macintosh and Windows workstations and servers for individuals and small businesses in numerous fields. We have consulted for clients ranging from independent creative professionals to architecture firms and even the Federal Government. Nick De Pirro, president of Project Studios, has Apple technical certifications for physical repairs of Apple hardware as well as software support. Shoot us an email or call for more information.

Creative Support

Via our network of friends, we can connect you with a personal trainer or project assistant who can whip your project into shape. We have graphic designers, editors, and programmers at our disposal. Of course, we also are connected with sculptors, painters, printmakers, and photographers.


GTAW/GMAW welding, bending, and machining services are available as well as CAD drawing preparation for water jet and laser cutting. Currently, our shop is in transition, so not all of our fabrication services are available at this time.

Studio Leasing

The original mission of Project Studios is to lease fairly priced studio spaces to artists. We currently have no studios available for summer, but hope to be expanding our warehouse space this winter.

Print Shop

At our studio in Hoboken, we run a little intaglio shop. If you need some studio time, just ask. The fee is quite nominal, but the press is super sweet. Sure, I will let you run some monotypes too.


Our new Clay Studio at Project Studios provides an art gym environment for artists to experiment and produce new work in ceramics. It is equipped with plenty of worktables, wheels, tools, and a Skutt production kiln.

Videography and Editing

Through its network of artists and videographers, Project can link you to a videographer or editor free of charge. The studio itself also can provide editing services for SD or HD video.


Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Pardon our dust as we prepare this section of the site. The Artists page will feature artists who lease studio space from our company in the interest of promoting their work.

The Resolution and the Mongoose

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I made a little New Year’s resolution for myself. Working so much in NYC exposes me to so many people asking for help, either homeless or worse, so I thought that I might agree to help instead of hurrying by. I came up with a simple rule, if somebody asked and I had change, I would give them my change. Because I need my cash for tolls or even for emergencies, like a few days ago when the Christopher Street Station refused my MetroCard in every single turnstile and I had to put cash into the machine to get a stupid paper card.

It is quite a challenge to uphold the rules of this program because I am conditioned to ignore everything around me like everybody else. Maybe that is what this is really about. Surely my stupid pocket change is not really helping anybody, but there are studies that show that being ignored has very negative psychological effects on people. Don’t make me cite the study here, I just remember that it was about people who worked in retail like somebody at Sam’s Club who offers you a sample of some Italian sausage from a little grill. It drives people nuts when you walk by instead of just saying, “No thanks.”

I am usually either trying to see a client or rushing home as fast as I can, so have to force myself to stop, but usually I can do it. I was at the Broadway-Lafayette Station last week and a guy came right up to me and asked for change. I waived him off almost automatically. I immediately realized that I just broke my rules because I had change in my pocket. I started to follow him down the platform, but he turned around first and came back my way. He came up to me again as if he already forgot he approached me and before he could ask, he had my quarter. There is another guy who works with this outfit called the United Homeless Organization or UHO as it it written on his money jug. I understand that this is a kind of organized panhandling outfit, but that doesn’t change my exercise. If I have change, I give it. If the argument is that handing money directly to the person asking is wrong because it will not help him, I propose that without the cash in my pocket last week, I would have been standing in the Christopher Street Station trying to figure out how to get home.

I have seen several blogs that trash the UHO because the person asking for the donation usually gets to keep whatever they can get, minus fifteen bucks that they have to turn over to their headquarters, wherever and whatever that is. So, if that is not really a problem for me, then I guess the other complaint is that the organization pays some CEO for travel and expenses. Perhaps that is a problem, but again, because I am a quarter down at the end of the day hardly means that I have made a huge negative impact on myself or somebody else. Perhaps the president of the outfit is more than a pimp, I can’t say. Yes, obviously, a donation to a legit organization would be money better spent, but don’t tell me that another non-profit won’t spend the money on something other then direct aid to people on the street. I a pretty sure that people sitting in cubicles at most non-profits have a larger paycheck than I do. Is Lincoln Center a non-profit? The budget for their renovation is a cool 1.2 billion dollars. I heard the lead architect on WNYC last week talking about how the street is where all the city’s energy is and that Alice Tully Hall will bring the center down to street level, whatever that means. Does it really have to do that? Does Lincoln Center use all of its money for support of the arts, or does it pay somebody to drive people around or make copies?  Most of the sites that I checked out for background on the UHO were pretty callous, and one was actually about hanging out in the Hamptons, but the author took time out to belittle homeless people just to change it up, I guess.

1.2 billion is an amazing amount of cash, but I guess it is about the cost of a single B-2 Spirit, so maybe it’s not that great. I think 1.2 billion would be a nice number for some seed money to start a street-level arts micro loan program and still have enough money for your CEO’s expenses at the end of the year. Bloomberg was speaking at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center today and he said that there were twenty-thousand ballerinas in NYC looking to fill the one-hundred ballerina positions at the center. Really, twenty-thousand, or is that just cute billionaire talk. If there are that many ballet dancers out there, how many painters are there that could use a micro-loan to get their practice up. It is unfortunate that we live in Sparta and not Greece. The stimulus bill has next to nothing for the arts, a mere fraction of the budget for the Lincoln Center facelift at 50 million dollars, and I’m sure most if it will go to Shakespeare theaters that do a great national service promoting English plays with American money. Perhaps there is a way to do a micro-loan program for artists and really take it down to the street level, after all, that is where all the energy is. If there was a sanctioned program, there would likely be a way to get art onto the streets for real. We could get those ballerinas out for a few open-air performances. Can you imagine a serious sculpture or suite of paintings right out in the street? They closed streets this summer so that people could walk and bike them, and in some instances there was spontaneous dancing, so why not fund the dancing and throw in some heavy duty visual art too. It sounds weird but it could work, and every artist I know has a shovel ready project. I have one that I could start tomorrow.

Speaking of that kind of thing, I recently saw a lost/stolen BMX bike up in Clifton, NJ on the side of Route 46. I turned around and grabbed it and tossed it in the truck. No seat, no brakes, it is a typical abused and abandoned bike. It was probably stolen, but it doesn’t look like it was garage kept, if you know what I mean. I guess I snaked it because I saw the Mongoose decal on the down tube, and that sealed it. I have wanted a Mongoose since I saw a Trend video with Dennis McCoy riding his Hooligan. The plan is to fix it up and ride it around the West Village and the Bowery as a sort of performance. I have no idea what direction it will take, but maybe it is a warm up for Bantam Mechanics; a sort of build project with a performance to get my feet wet before we start the big one. Besides, I really want to ride in NYC and a found bike could wind up staying in NYC when the performance is finished. No real loss, given that the parts I need will hardly amount to a substantial sum. Maybe I can find a reputable non-profit to accept the bike, or perhaps I can just give it to somebody who asks.