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ONI WHIPPED BY INSPECTIONAL SERVICES

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W. W. Marquis de Sade D.? *

ONI art-performance space will never open again. No, you will not be seeing the scintillating opener Quadrosonic Porn, a 3-screen video extravaganza from NY. In a Kafkaesque nightmare, the day Boston Inspectional Services was to issue ONI’s long-awaited general assembly permit for a theater and gallery with 300-person occupancy, a rogue elephant from the the Fire Department dug up an obscure state regulation barring masonry buildings with wooden joists from pubic assembly over the second floor – i.e. all older buildings (versus the steel–concrete towers cropping up all around us). In short, ONI’s Chinatown building is inflammable.

Inspectional services shut down ONI in November, 2003 due to building-wide fire code violations. Under court pressure the landlord began upgrading fire systems which made legalization of ONI possible. ONI artists worked closely with Boston Inspectional Services to bring its two floors up to rigorous fire code requirements for general assembly use. Oni Director Lydia Eccles said, “Chief Building Inspector Charles Colburne, Plans Examiner Ken Morin, and Fire Captain McCormack recognized that we were “caught in the middle” and helped and encouraged us throughout. Our architect and code specialist Christopher Lynch miraculously worked everything out with them. Since June , 2004 there was a clear understanding that once we performed specified fire code improvements (at substantial cost and labor) to pass building and fire inspections, we would be be approved to open full-tilt. We celebrated after jumping the last hurdle, passing fire inspection. Our ducks were all lined up only to get shot down the at the very moment we were to open, by a fire official never involved with our 14-month legalization ordeal.” Oni artist Nicholas Vargelis commented, “Bureacracy happens.” ONI mailed a $12,500 grant check back to the LEF foundation.

“Strangely enough, I evolved a growing interest in Sado-Masochism over the past 14 months,” Eccles admitted. “I realized we’d developed Stockholm Syndrome when, upon learning the shocking news, it occurred simultaneously to all four of us to apply for jobs at inspectional services… Then we remembered we’re artists.” The year hasn’t been a complete waste – Tim Bailey’s sculpture has shown in numerous exhibitions, Nick Vargelis designed lighting for theatrical shows in NY, Boston, and for Dresden Dolls’ national tour, Ryan Krakowsky’s private investigations continued free of interference, and Eccles slogged on with work-in-progress,I Have No Reason To Live.

Just a few of those we to whom we are grateful: Oni angel Heidi Derven, long-time helpmate James Manning, webmastermind Matt Nash, Angela Delicatsios, door-lady Heidi Columb, volunteer staffers; Bo Dixon and his dog who know how to do everything, board member and supersmart strategist Debra Bickoff; artists who worked for little or no pay: Tom Cole, Ellie Lee, Sara Seinberg, Dana Moser, Andrew Guthrie, Rob Todd, Ben McCoy, Peter Pizzi, David Franklin, ad infinitum; Abbie Katz–host to exiled ONI at the YMCA theater; devoted patron dandy-aesthete Mitch Hampton; 8-Days’ Carli Carioli, LEF Foundation Director Lyda Kuth and Katharyn Ostermier–superwomen swooping to single-handedly rescue experimental art dangling on the brink; and all the cultural fitness buffs who regularly climbed ONI Stairmaster.

It was just one of those things.

*turn the other cheek


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Image courtesy of the (former) Oni Gallery.

This Big RED News item is the final press release from Oni Gallery. They will be missed.

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