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Clocktower Productions is a non-profit art institution working in the visual arts, performance, music, and radio. Founded in 1972 in Lower Manhattan by MoMA PS1 Founder Alanna Heiss, Clocktower is the oldest alternative art project in New York, and its radio station, Clocktower Radio, was founded in 2003 as one of the first all-art online museum radio stations in the world. The institution functions as a laboratory for experimentation, working closely and collaboratively with artists, musicians, curators, writers and producers to develop, realize and present innovative and challenging work in all media, ranging from installation to performance and from experimental music to radio theater. By engaging both the physical resources of its partner organizations and Clocktower Radio’s access to a broad and international online audience, Clocktower disseminates experimental work to numerous communities, and promotes a rich cultural and social dialogue between artists, audiences, and institutions worldwide.
Clocktower produces multidisciplinary art projects all over the city through creative collaborations with Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Knockdown Center in Queens, and Times Square Arts, Red Bull Studios, and Jones Day in Manhattan. These spaces host Clocktower exhibitions, performances, residencies, radio, and administrative activities. While Clocktower examines opportunities for a permanent long-term home, administrative offices are located in the Jones Day office building on East 41st Street, with a satellite studio for full-time radio production and broadcast at Pioneer Works, in Red Hook.
In the 1970s, Alanna Heiss emerged as a prominent figure of the alternative spaces movement. In 1971, she founded The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which organized exhibitions in otherwise unused or overlooked spaces in New York. The Institute's first pioneering show, Under the Brooklyn Bridge, was organized by Heiss and Gordon Matta-Clark, and featured such artists as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Dennis Oppenheim. In 1972 Heiss created the Clocktower Gallery, located on the top floor of a 19th Century McKim, Mead & White building in Lower Manhattan. Opening with inaugural solo shows with Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle, and James Bishop, the Clocktower quickly became a legendary space for exhibitions, installations, and performance art. The Clocktower mounted groundbreaking solo exhibitions by artists including Gordon Matta-Clark, Lynda Benglis, Max Neuhaus, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Artschwager, Pat Steir, Vito Acconci, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Charlotte Moorman, Laurie Anderson, and Marina Abramović, among numerous others.
In 1976, Heiss founded P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens, and the Clocktower became an auxiliary space for artist residencies and group shows of emerging artists.
In 2004, the space became the headquarters of P.S.1’s Art Radio WPS1.org, the world's first Internet art radio station. WPS1 produced hundreds of hours of curated programming from art fairs and festivals worldwide including the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami Beach, PERFORMA, and the Armory Show; featured a unique collection of music ranging from live recordings of the widely acclaimed P.S.1 summer Warm Up series to experimental music surveys; and partnered with numerous arts organizations to present recordings of public programs, events, performances, and radio profiles documenting the New York City cultural fabric.
In December 2008, Alanna Heiss left P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, negotiated a transfer of the Clocktower Gallery lease and WPS1 radio programs, and re-launched both under ARTonAIR.org, which re-vitalized the Clocktower Gallery’s exhibition and artist residency program and substantially increased its radio production, with programs ranging from in-depth coverage of the New York arts and culture scene to cooking shows, experimental music shows, and curated playlists by renowned DJs, musicians and composers. ARTonAIR quickly tripled its online audience, and restored the Clocktower Gallery’s role in New York City culture by making it accessible to visitors from around the world.
In December 2013, after 40 years of operation from its historic 1894 McKim, Mead & White building in Lower Manhattan, the Clocktower announced the final exhibition in this legendary space, and plans for relocation through a year of creative collaborations with partner organizations all over New York City. The Clocktower was located in a City-owned building on Leonard Street, which was sold to a developer with anticipated conversion for residential and commercial use. The Clocktower developed a groundbreaking new model for ongoing and overlapping collaboration with multiple organizations, covering a wide range of exhibitions, performances, residencies, and radio broadcasts, with partners Pioneer Works in Red Hook; Times Square Arts in Manhattan; Knockdown Center in Queens; Playland Motel in Far Rockaway; and Jones Day in Manhattan.