A fortnight is an increment of time, spanning the two weeks it takes for a full moon to become new again. While the exhibitions at Jane Harmon and Fabiola Alondra’s Fortnight Institute often last longer than this celestial span, it’s this nostalgia for a more romantic era that seems to guide their salon-style program. “We liked that an institute is an organization established to promote a cause,” Alondra says. Fortnight Institute’s mission is straightforward. “We have really close relationships with our artists,” Harmon says. “We built Fortnight for them.”
Although Fortnight Institute only opened last April, the space’s community seems to multiply with each passing exhibition. Often one can spot the East Village jewel-box by the overflow pouring out of its doors during openings. North of the gallery-saturated Lower East Side, Fortnight Institute stands alone in a neighborhood that was once populated by artists and writers. “It’s a special block in that only independent businesses are there,” Alondra explains. “It’s a sort of cultural haven with over ten theaters on the block, a Food Co-Op, KGB Bar and an instrument shop.”
In order to finance their own moonlit efforts, Alondra and Harmon hold day jobs. Harmon is Richard Prince’s studio manager, and Alondra heads the gallery 303 In Print.
Both share a love of literature that is interwoven with their personal history. The two met in London during their art history studies and were reunited again at Fulton Ryder, Prince’s bookshop. This past summer, they hosted “Summer Reading,” a show playing off the ubiquitous ploy used to market “beach” books. The group exhibition included volumes of all kinds by artists like Aida Ruilova, Ed Ruscha and Elizabeth Jaeger.
When talking about the challenges of art texts today, Harmon is matter of fact. “I think the state of art writing is 144 characters or less,” she says. “It becomes a creative challenge in a way to say the most while using the least amount of words and symbols. Limitations and changes are inevitable so why not let them work in your favor.” At the upcoming L.A. Book Fair, Alondra and Harmon will debut a book of Richard Kern polaroids on the heels of their fall solo show of his unpublished photographs, a mash-up of his early 1970s land art and images of collaborators like Lydia Lunch and Lung Leg to shots of his East Village apartment and street side drug busts.
While the duo don’t represent artists, there are recurring figures. Carmen Winant, the young collage artist that opened their space in April, will be the sole focus of their booth at the art fair Volta. “We do have strong relationships with our artists and we like to keep that growing through collaboration,” Alondra explains. “To give them freedom and a haven for their ideas without constraints is very important to us.”