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Downtown Brooklyn partnership and Van Alen Institute unveil Soft-Firm’s Drive-Thru at The Plaza at 300 Ashland

February 22, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) and the Van Alen Institute, in partnership with Two Trees Management, recently announced their annual public art installation, Soft-Firm’s “Drive-Thru” at the Plaza at 300 Ashland. 

“Drive-Thru,” a series of videos and performances by Brooklyn artists, filmmakers and cultural organizations, will be on view until April 14, 2022. 

Inspired by the classic drive-in movie experience, “Drive-Thru” reimagines how shared public spaces can be activated during the winter months to connect communities. By incorporating light through rear projection, it serves as a cinema for pedestrians and is visible from the heavily trafficked intersection of Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues. 

The design echoes surrounding urban infrastructure, such as the rotating Brooklyn Academy of Music sign, billboards and construction scaffolding, all evoking the Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood.

“Drive-Thru” will showcase film and video by eight Brooklyn-based artists and filmmakers that highlight Brooklyn communities, explore themes of urban life, and connect to Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Live performances will be held to complement a selection of the featured films, starting with a Black History Month celebration event on February 23.

The Plaza at 300 Ashland in the Brooklyn Cultural District, a venue for festivals, markets and community events. Photo courtesy of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

“Our latest public art installation, “Drive-Thru,” builds on DBP’s mission to connect people through the power of shared spaces, storytelling and public art,” said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Supporting local artists is at the core of our vision for the Plaza and by bringing diverse voices and perspectives to the forefront of the public realm, “Drive-Thru” exemplifies how individual experiences can become shared when viewed as a community.”

“We are thrilled to have `Drive-Thru’ at the Plaza and to see Brooklyn’s artists and cultural organizations collaborate to maximize this space’s potential as a venue and gathering space,” said Kate Gavriel, cultural affairs director at Two Trees Management Co. “The Plaza at 300 Ashland was designed as a space for the community to come together and celebrate Brooklyn and the people in it — a role that has never been more important than during the pandemic.”

Drive-Thru projects video on two screens that rotate around a pivot at the center of a circular wooden platform. These screens also act as outer walls of two wedge-shaped open-air spaces. On the interior of the installation, the pivot allows varying configurations of space while on the exterior, the screens can be oriented towards major view corridors at the site, visible from Lafayette Avenue and Flatbush Avenue as well as the stepped seating of the Plaza.

The Plaza at 300 Ashland has served as a hub for the arts since its unveiling in 2017, hosting events year-round, including film screenings, concerts, theater performances, dance and fitness classes, readings, community gatherings, and more – all free and open to the public as a part of DBP’s ongoing series “Downtown Brooklyn Presents.”

The live performance on Feb. 23, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., in honor of Black History Month, will feature Senegalese drum and dance circle Teneber Sunu Birr. The installation “Follow/Unfollow,” by Nicholas Fraser, from Feb. 24 to March 2, captures New Yorkers as they travel the city’s changing streetscape. 

Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Then, from March 2 to March 8, Simon Benjamin’s “Errantry” is centered on the polyphonic rhythms of coastal space, the Caribbean sea, and the life sustained by it. From March 9 to March 15, Luna X. Moya’s “What the Pier Gave Us” looks at a fisherman’s ordinary day at an undisclosed New York City pier as a metaphor for the immigrant experience in the United States. For more, see the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership website.

The Plaza at 300 Ashland is located in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, at the intersection of Lafayette and Flatbush avenues. The plaza is easily accessible – located only a short walk from the B, Q, 2/3 and 4/5 subway lines at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, the G train at Fulton St, and the C train at Lafayette Ave, as well as a number of bus stops.

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