What does the interior architecture of the artist's workspace tell us about their process and practice? In psychoanalytic terms, perhaps what's in the artist's studio is what's on the artist's mind.
In our times, though, the spaces artists inhabit are quite different to the cavernous, secluded spaces of the past: they've had to adapt to a more migratory lifestyle, and have succumbed to the economic squeeze in urban centers. The only universal marker left of the resplendent artist's studio, really, is the desktop: a synecdoche of art practice, that's where the action is caught in media res, where bureaucracy and creativity collide—whether it's on a laptop screen in an Airbnb, on a bedroom floor in a relative's house, or in a shared working space in a regenerating neighborhood somewhere.
This week, we've invited three exhibiting artists at Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016 to share what's on their desks, and explain why.
Los Angeles, CA
I have four desks, each with its own function. Those four desks are, in a sense, my studio. The desk where I sit and where I spend most of my time is the one with with my laptop. Next to it is a desk with a printer on it—an essential tool for me. The more central space is occupied by a larger desk that I use for print-outs and cut-outs, placed so that I can walk around it. The fourth work desk is the floor. This is where most of the actual works come together, even though it doesn't look like it in this photo. This is, however, what my studio looks like today, which happens to be at its most orderly. It's quite rare that it looks this way, but it is nevertheless a regularly recurrent state. In between projects I always try and go back to this, to start working again from a clean slate, but gradually the cut-outs from the large table start reproducing, growing, spreading and taking over the space, making the floor the main work desk.
Jakob Kolding is presented by team gallery (inc,), Booth C8, at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, January 28—31.
Los Angeles, CA
Funny, an artist’s desk brings to mind the impression of white collar activity. Rightly or wrongly, I like to think of time spent working out visual and conceptual puzzles as activities better spent on the table rather than the desk. Blue collar, lightly starched. I start the day using a computer to cull through my exhaustive archive of Michael Jackson photographs taken in the ’80s when I worked as his personal photographer, then I review my archive of images made in Ghana where I maintain a studio. The computer is my tabula rasa, allowing me unrestrained travel through multiple archives, imagined and real. The selected images are printed out, framed, and then collaged together as low relief sculpture. On top of my five-by-eight-foot table is a milky white gridded cutting matte, large enough for my assistant and I to work without bumping into each other while cutting photos and attaching frames together, while listening to Sun Ra, MC5, Funkadelic, Fela Kuti, PiL, J Dilla, Stooges, Miles Davis and, these days, David Bowie (RIP).
Todd Gray is presented by Meliksetian | Briggs, Booth D16, at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, January 28—31.
—As told to Char Jansen