SOUTHFIRST 60 North 6th Street  Brooklyn, NY  11211



8th Avenue

July 13 Š August 11, 2017

Reception: Thursday, July 20, 6 - 8 PM

Performance/talk, "Abjective Theater,Ó by Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin, Thursday, July 27th, 7 PM


SOUTHFIRST is proud to present "8th Avenue," the first New York exhibition presenting the photographic work and poetry of STEFAN BRECHT. BrechtÕs black-and-white silver gelatin prints of New York pavements were taken during the 1970s and 80s as he walked between his home on Washington Street and the Chelsea Hotel, where he did his writing. He overlaid Xeroxed versions of the photographs with text for his poetry book, 8th Avenue. This is the first exhibition of the complete set of original photographs from the book. The show is on view from July 13 Š August 11, 2017. There will be a reception held on Thursday, July 20, 6 - 8 PM. Artists Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin will give a performance/talk entitled "Abjective Theater,Ó loosely based on Stefan BrechtÕs writings about the theater, on Thursday, July 27th, 7 PM. Both events are free and open to the public.


Stefan Brecht wrote closely observed descriptions of theater and performance in New York from the 1960s through the 1980s, including performances by the Ridiculous Theater, Jack Smith, Jared Bark, and Cecil Taylor. This exhibition looks at BrechtÕs use of photography and his collection of matchbooks as a way of exploring his interest in recording the details of his time. Brecht did not photograph the performances he wrote about. His photographs and collections of ephemera demonstrate a parallel aspect of his urge to record the textures, details, and gestures of the world through which he walked, however; by looking at them we can deepen our understanding of what was at stake in his writing about performance and his notion of the spectatorÕs role in relation to history. For Brecht, to meticulously inventory the observed detail of the everyday world around him was a life project. In a letter written in 1999 to his niece (on display in the exhibition), about writing poetry, Brecht wrote:


The surprising thing is not that all actual, i.e., experienced, observations show whatÕs observed to be other than commonly thought (& than that observer thinks it is) but that this actual content is so easily, in a nano-second, lost by the observer: one instantly, all the time, forgets what one just saw (observed)Ńand, worse, that most everybody doesnÕt want to focus on it, wants not to focus on it: as though it were greasy. Obstinately clinging to it makes poetry. DonÕt blow up the observation. Inventory it.


This exhibition was organized by Maika Pollack and would not be possible without the generous help of Rena Gill.


Stefan Brecht (1924 - 2009) fled Germany with his family in the 1930s. He graduated from UCLA, and earned a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard in 1959. Stefan Brecht: Poems was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights books in 1977. His writing on performance includes Queer Theatre (1978), a key text in performance studies, as well as The Theatre of Visions: Robert Wilson (1978) and Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theatre (1988). His unfinished manuscripts for the projective series The Original Theatre of the City of New York, from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, are housed in NYUÕs Fales Library. Richard ForemanÕs Diary Theatre: Theatre as Personal Phenomenology of the Mind, on ForemanÕs Ontological Hysteric Theater, 1968 - 1985, edited by Rena Gill, is forthcoming from Methuen Drama in 2019.


SOUTHFIRST, founded in 2000, is located at 60 North 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between Wythe and Kent Avenues. Please note summer gallery hours are Wed.- Fri from 11 AM - 6 PM and by appointment. Subway: L train to Bedford Avenue. For more information, please contact the gallery at 718 599 4884 or