The Real Estate Show

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The Real Estate Show poster by Becky Howland

The Real Estate Show was a Colab sponsored illegal occupation exhibition on the subject of landlord speculation in real estate[1] held on New Year's Eve in January 1980 in a vacant city-owned building at 123 Delancey Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.[2] The squatter action followed a year of long and frustrating campaigning to rent the property for an exhibition space from officials of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).[3]

On New Year's Day the show was officially opened to the public. It was to be a two-week occupation/exhibit but was closed down by the police. On the morning of January 2, the Colab artists discovered the storefront padlocked from the inside, their work locked within. Phone calls revealed it to be the doing of HPD. The Real Estate Show had been open exactly one day.[4]

On January 8, the artists, accompanied by art dealer Ronald Feldman and German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys assembled at the site to protest its closing in the company of reporters from the New York Times, Soho News, and the East Village Eye.[5] There was a photograph taken of Beuys at the front door of The Real Estate Show standing with Feldman, Alan W. Moore, Joseph Nechvatal, Cid Collins and others taken that day.[6]

On January 11 city workers swept into 123 Delancey, cleared out the exhibited work and trucked it to an uptown warehouse. It was not until a few days later that artists were granted entry into the warehouse to take their art back home.[7]

On January 16 a deal was reached with the city that gave birth to ABC No Rio when, as a compromise, a city agency gave the artists control of nearby 156 Rivington Street.[8]

The Real Estate Show Revisited[edit]

In early 2014, there were four concurrent art exhibitions in New York City around The Real Estate Show: at James Fuentes Gallery, ABC No Rio, the Lodge Gallery, and Cuchifritos Gallery/Essex Street Market.[9][10][11][12][13]

In June 2017, Becky Howland & Matthias Mayer curated The Real Estate Show at Spor Klubu in Berlin, drawing from documentation of the original Real Estate Show (1980) from the Archive Collection of the extant project space ABC No Rio. Included in the show were Robert Cooney, Mitch Corber, Peter Fend, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Bobby G (Robert Goldman), Ilona Granet, Becky Howland, Christof Kohlhofer, Gregory Lehmann, Ann Messner, Peter Mönnig, Alan Moore, Joseph Nechvatal, Cara Perlman, Scott Pfaffman, Christy Rupp and Robin Winters. In conjunction with this show, another exhibition called The Real Estate Show Extended/Berlin: Group exhibition on the subject of Gentrification, Real Estate Speculation and Selling out the City was presented at Kunstpunkt Berlin. This show included many Berlin artists along with four original members of the Real Estate Show (1980): Becky Howland, Peter Mönnig, Alan Moore, and Joseph Nechvatal. Howland, Mönnig, Moore and Nechvatal also participated in a panel discussion on Real Estate and Art on June 3rd, 2017 that was moderated by Howard McCalebb of Dada Post, Berlin. [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] The Real Estate Show Manifesto or Statement of Intent Committee for the Real Estate Show, 1980
  2. ^ Max Schumann (ed.) A Book about Colab (and Related Activities) Printed Matter, Inc, 2016. pp. 100-119
  3. ^ Julie Ault. Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985 University of Minnesota Press, 2002: p.217.
  4. ^ Carlo McCormick, The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, Princeton University Press, 2006
  5. ^ [2] The Real Estate Show By Lehmann Weichselbaum, East Village Eye, 1980
  6. ^ The Real Estate Show
  7. ^ [3] The Real Estate Show by Lehmann Weichselbaum, East Village Eye, 1980
  8. ^ The Formation of ABC NO RIO
  9. ^ [4] The Real Estate Show Revisited
  10. ^ [5] Article on James Fuentes Gallery show "Real Estate Show, Then...And Now"
  11. ^ [6] The Real Estate Show Slideshow and Commentary
  12. ^ [7] Putting the ‘No’ in ‘Nostalgia’ by Robert C. Morgan
  13. ^ [8]"Lower East Side: The Real Estate Show Redux by Natasha Kurchanova at Studio International
  14. ^ [9] The Real Estate Show at Kunstpunkt Berlin


  • Julie Ault, Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985, University of Minnesota Press, 2002.
  • David Little, Colab Takes a Piece, History Takes It Back: Collectivity and New York Alternative Spaces, Art Journal Vol.66, No. 1, Spring 2007, College Art Association, New York, pp. 60–74 (Article [10])
  • Carlo McCormick, The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Alan W. Moore, Artists' Collectives: Focus on New York, 1975-2000 in Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945, Blake Stimson & Gregory Sholette, (eds) University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2007, pp. 193–221.
  • Alan W. Moore and Marc Miller (eds), ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery, Collaborative Projects, NY, 1985.
  • Max Schumann (ed.), A Book about Colab (and Related Activities) Printed Matter, Inc, 2016. pp. 100–119
  • Francesco Spampinato, The Real Estate Show and The Times Square Show Revisited [11]
  • The Real Estate Show [12]