Alex Schweder LA
In the early part of 2010 the creative cowboy team worked in Berlin, launching the film Space Time Performance there at the end of March. The cold weather was beginning to wane as the changing nature of spring lifted the spirits of Berlin’s very international and creative community.
Watch the discussion between ALEX SCHWEDER LA and PETER HYLANDS (an extra feature on the Space Time Performance DVD called Our weight around us) to find out about working in Berlin and exhibiting around the world.
TINA DiCARLO Writer, curator and founder of the Archive of Spatial Aesthetics in Berlin launched Space Time Performance after the initial public screening of the film.
“Schweder, a Princeton – trained architect turned artist and a Rome Prize Fellow is among a new group of emerging practitioners in which the gallery is evoked no longer as an area of display, but as a testing ground to formulate new paradigms of special practice. Here, architecture functions as a medium or special protagonist through which forms of agency may be invented, negotiated, provoked, uncovered, eschewed, or displaced”
Combining performance art with his training as an architect, “performance architect” ALEX SCHWEDER LA is working on a project in Victoria to research and gather material for an exhibition in Berlin titled Possums Without Walls.
He is partnering with both KHADIJA CARROLL LA and the Koorie Heritage Trust on this project, which features the recently revived practice of making possum skin cloaks in a video installation surrounding one of 5 remaining cloaks from the 19th century.
“I am interested in taking what we usually think of as an object and understanding it performatively.” He continues “These cloaks are as much about time and stories as they are about the actual furs. In our installation, visitors will move through space to sense the various significances surrounding them.”
ALEX SCHWEDER LA’s work with how spaces are performed and constructed culminated in a work in Berlin’s MAGNUS MULLER space titled Its Form Will Follow Your Performance. Here ALEX offered “Free Architectural Advice” to anyone who wanted an apartment renovation. Rather than suggest a rearrangement of walls or a different paint colour, Alex wrote a short set of instructions for each “client” to behave differently in their home. This shift in action constituted the renovation.
ALEX SCHWEDER LA, an American born artist furthered his exploration of time based architecture in three installations featured in the Creative cowboy film Space Time Performance.
The first of these, Stability was exhibited at Lawrimore Project in Seattle and occupied for a week by its authors who lived in the work and did not exit the work during this period.
During the course of this performance a key consideration was the shifting of SCHWEDER’s and SHELLEY’s weight as they went about their daily tasks inside the work. In this group of works that explore the permeability of buildings and the bodies that occupy them, buildings are set up as architectural caricatures that prompt exaggerated behaviour from their occupants.
In 2009 ALEX SCHWEDER LA was the artist in residence at the Chinati Foundation, the museum DONALD JUDD created for the permanent display of his work in Marfa, Texas. During his three months in Marfa, ALEX developed a site specific work entitled Evaporative Buildings. One work indoors and one work outside made use of video projectors and mechanically induced precipitation. Sprinklers made mist, which served as a “screen” for a cyclical loop of video projections: green rectangular shapes, recessed one behind another, which rose, fell, and moved through the mist in ever-shifting patterns. Indoors, more green shapes were projected onto a small-scale artificial snowstorm. (Two snow-making machines in the rafters provided the snowfall.) Both indoors and out, the projected shapes resembled stacked architectural sections at one moment, phantasmal apertures the next: unreliable exits and entrances, flickering greenly in the mist and snow.
In 2009 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) acquired ALEX SCHWEDER’s A Sac of Rooms All Day Long for its permanent collection. The work was originally featured in SFMOMA’s exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. Funded by a Pollack-Krasner Award, this work is a “pregnant house” where four rooms of a 900 square foot house inflate within the building envelope of a 550 square foot bungalow.
Both of these buildings are made from sewn clear vinyl and architectural features such as stairs, wainscoting, toilets, and fireplaces are all “drawn” in accordance with architectural conventions of line weight. At a certain point in the works inflation, the work’s skin, which is too small becomes a restraint to the rooms inside forcing, for example, the kitchen to steal space from the living room. The result is a writhing performance that unfolds over the course of a day.
Many of the works described here and the installation of A Sac of Rooms All Day Long can be seen in the Creative cowboy film, Space Time Performance. The film can be purchased on DVD from the Creative cowboy website online shop, both PAL and NTSC versions are available.