If artist Duke Riley was born in Ye Olde Days, he would have sailed the world discovering new lands and cultures. Or maybe he would have been a tattooist working on the edge of society covering sailors with anchors and other types of flash. (He founded Cherry Bomb Tattoo.) But, obsessed with circumnavigating the Island of Manhattan, he makes do studying the history of the waterways around Brooklyn.
For his upcoming solo show â€œDuke Riley Presents Paul Piers for Chanelâ€ (that opens tomorrow and runs through 26 August 2006) he has created a flagship store for the fictitious fashionista Paul Piers and filled Paulâ€™s boutique with crispy clothing taken from the warehouse that recently burned down in Williamsburg. Duke has made a video specifically for this show about the homeless people who lived in the warehouse and created a micro-industry out of found items. It explains how the homeless people found a huge stash of 70â€™s and 80â€™s clothing in the warehouse and started a business of supplying all of the vintage stores in Williamsburg with clothing. This may seem like a departure from his usual seafaring work, but the parallel lies in the gentrification squeezing out the peripheral culture from Brooklyn's waterfront and replacing one luxury â€œstoreâ€ (i.e. gallery) in Chelsea with another.