Post Post-Studio Studios
2007 - 2012

Under the careful hand of the artist, the studio can be a magical place where materials, images, and even people come to life. Pygmalion’s statue, Frankenstein’s monster, Rrose Selavy and Cindy Sherman are but four examples of the primordial power of the artist’s lair. I am another entry to this line of avatars, an artist spawned from an admixture of postcolonialism, narrative license, stagecraft, and branding.

In the 1990s, a generation of artists came to be known as having “post-studio” practices because they did not make art by conventional means. Rather, they made work only when someone invited them to do so, usually in a faraway city. Their practices consisted of visiting the location, conceiving of an artwork, and then having the logistical expenditure of producing the artwork (or some version of it) assumed by the host institution. In such an environment, the studio came to be seen as an anachronism ill-suited for the “just in time” production economies of the international biennial circuit. The studio was a place where paintings and sculptures got made, outmoded terms if ever there were.

In the last decade, however, artists like Pawel Althamer, Tino Sehgal, and Artur Zmijewski reinvigorated the idea of the studio as a site of production by enlisting others to inhabit it for them, thereby outsourcing the labor of making art as well as the burden of authenticity. In what could be called a post post-studio practice, the idea of the studio artist—that would be me—makes a comeback. Only now the studio artist is a paid actor performing on a set that looks just like an artist’s studio.

If the work I make (or pretend to make) is good, then it shouldn’t matter whether I am real or not. Nor should it matter whether my life story is borne out in the work I produce, or whether it is borne out to such an absurd degree as to evoke suspicion. At this point in the evolution of identity politics, the obligation to make work that matches your biographical profile can be essentialist and limiting. It is certainly obsolete.

Since I designed my first studio as stage set in a reclaimed lumber factory in 2007, I have made eight studio sets in different parts of the world that were inhabited by live actors in real time. Sometimes the performance only lasted several hours; sometimes weeks or months. Here are still images from those extended performances in New Haven as well as Sharjah, Harlem, London, Coventry, Gateshead, New York, and London again.


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