When I began my life as an artist I scavenged urban refuse - made temporary installations, and thought about the subjectivity of the art-making process. I wanted my work to seduce the viewer into believing that what they saw was art, while at the same time cause them to question its existence.
During the early ‘80’s I found it more interesting to think about how social space is negotiated by its users. Using spatial arrangements I organized my work to instigate anonymous relationships, behavioral proclivities and public flirtations. I wanted to play the role of the unseen cupid and the backroom troublemaker.
Since the mid ‘90’s I have focused on different ways to give access to informational materials such as books videos , maps , etc., as a ploy to set-up temporary communities . Currently, other life forms such as lizards, birds , fish and plants have been added to the work as metaphorical stand-ins for ways we behave, relationships we have, and places we hope to visit.
My work falls somewhere between sculpture, architecture & design. Though trained in sculpture I have built permanent and temporary projects in Europe and the United States that range in site and scale to include urban space, parks, exhibition design, libraries, domestic spaces, and furniture. Whatever form the work takes, it considers the link between the social/political world and the private psychological one. My approach is to combine humor and cynicism to zoom in and out of the conditions, which organize us as a culture, thereby hoping to affect us as individuals. My focus is on the ‘down time’ when one eats, reads and is in repose, as the time when the ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘what’ , and ‘how’ are most evidenced. It is with this focus that I arrange space, orchestrate intimacy, and turn the public into unknown performers.
The adage of "what you do in public is different than what you do in the privacy of your own home" explains how and why my interest in public space has moved from the street to the institution to inside the domestic environment. I try to highlight and confuse the differences between these sites in an attempt to promote a social breakdown of content and context.
The habits of domestic life are transposed onto the street. How we walk,talk,eat,relax is negotiated onto the scale of the public site. We leave our home and carry it like a backpack throughout the day. We take it with us to the street, the theater ,the subway ,the mall. We take our walls, chairs, libraries and vanities with us.
We put on a coat and think of it as a warm bath. We buy a newspaper to fit around us like a mobile home. We sit in a park and find the same seat as yesterday. We drink a coffee to make the public space our living room. We take a train to get under the covers of the book. We wear sunglasses to separate our room from another. We look in car windows to try to locate our reflection in a context. We cross the street and try to remember why we left home.
I grew up in New York City and am a fifth generation Manhattan-ite. Being a city person I have always regarded nature with a certain amount of awe & trepidation.I prefer to observe other life forms from a distance in order to create a protective barrier between the subject, the object and me.On occasion I have used “living species “ in my work as a human substitute, a social divider or simply as an optimistic presence. The babble of birds, the frozen movement of a lizard or the symbiotic relationship of aquatic species, are used as metaphoric devices that mirror our own social behavior. These situational tableaux become social studies in comparisons, species to species, and us to them.It is this collapse of object & subject that I find most interesting.
Nature is a theme many artists have used to serve as a footnote or an add-on to the core of what they do. It is a subject that has a “life of its own” that is malleable, familiar and thought of as exotic. Be it a documentary of a plant collection or a dance with a hummingbird, what is common to us all is our fascination with this subject.
There was a time not long ago, when what you did in the privacy of your own home and what you did in public were different activities. The street was the space between destinations , governed by the do’s and don’t’s of an unspoken etiquette. When did the subway become a beauty parlor and the check-out line a place for a cell phone conversation. Somewhere along the line the rules changed, the thresholds merged, and seemingly overnight ,the guidebook was re-written.
The over-population of the street merges the tourist and the homeless, the neighbor and the contractor. Now exiting home depends on street traffic and garbage pick-up, and crossing the street requires battling through people texting, entranced in the web of virtual life.
I live in a shopping mall. Lower Manhattan is filled with tourists, cheap clothing, mobile food kiosks & Starbucks. Pilates & Yoga are the AM fashion motif, replaced by recent style trends by the afternoon, now the midriff is bare and the pecs in full view There are no public facilities, drinking fountains, or garbage receptacles; the neighborhood pharmacy is gone; the restaurant has moved; the parking lot is a luxury hotel; and the designer food stores have replaced the Bodega . The sounds of construction competes with the honking of horns of tunnel traffic, and the restaurants are filled with loud music and outdoor smokers. I like to walk. Mobility helps my brain, my body and my behavior. The random stroll is now tinged with caution as I chart my route trying to avoid interference as I watch my step.
In contrast, I use the theme of Nature as an escape into the sounds and smells different from the city street. I build spaces that turn the audience into vacationers, dipping them into the liquidity of an alternate universe, sometimes taking the form of a chair, a house or a room. Periodically these universes excrete a shell, pebble or leaf. These items are brought home as a memento of a family vacation or romantic liaison. Once home, they are put into a box, a drawer, or remain dust-gatherers on the table or shelf. As with vacation photographs, they are looked at once and easily forgotten. They lose their luster, their wetness and their touch. How long does the scent of the beach, the forest or the garden linger. How long does the color stay vivid. How long do displaced objects retain meaning. How long can we stay inside of this world.