In 2004, Rachel Nelson and Erik Zajaceskowski, along with a few friends, formed Secret Project Robot in Williamsburg, New York with the intent of fostering conversation among Brooklyn’s creatives by bringing innovative art and performances to anyone who is interested.
“Is there art if nobody sees it?” Nelson asks. “Yes, of course there is, but not on this whole social level. We figured we could get people to talk about it and have this whole dialogue.”
Secret Project Robot is focused on creating a solid sense of community through events and exhibits with a postmodern approach that allows for audience participation. “The viewer is completing the work of art,” Nelson says. The multipurpose venue features installation pieces and shows by a number of Brooklyn-based bands.
Nelson and Zajaceskowski have built strong ties to bands like Aa, Vivian Girls, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who have all performed at Secret Project Robot. They have known Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for years, and the trio hosted the group’s 10-year anniversary show in September of 2010.
“We actually knew them from way before they were the Yeah Yeah Yeahs because they were just all in other bands,” Nelson says. “They were all just people that we knew for like 12 years.”
Throughout February, Mira Billotte from White Magic is showcasing Spira Mirabilis Mundain, an installation piece that combines a maze of projected video elements covered in layers of translucent fabric. In addition, White Magic also played the exhibit’s opening on February 4, and will perform another show on February 26 for the release of its limited-edition White Widow EP.
Although Williamsburg has become more commercialized since the venue’s inception, Secret Project Robot has always been a space where locals can gather and connect over shared creative interests.
“I think that in the last couple of years, people have gotten really excited about the fact that we just want them to come hang out,” Nelson says. “I think that the idea of friendship, even among people who sort of don’t know each other, has evolved.”