Alex Schweder: Roiling Infill
The Warehouse Gallery
November 13, 2008 – January 3, 2009
Roiling Infill consists of a video projection, Jealous Poché (2004), and an architectural installation titled Snowballing Doorway (2007). Both components of the exhibition accomplish in very different ways the artist’s ongoing interest in the intersection between architecture, sculpture and performance art.
Jealous Poché is a seven-minute architectural fly-through of a space somewhere between body and building. The word poché was coined in France’s École de Beaux Arts during a neoclassical moment to refer to the space between the surfaces of walls. Here, the camera path and viewer’s position are actually inside the viscous poché looking into the voids on the other side of the wall’s surface. The camera work in this video shows an attention by the artist to a liminal moment (the skin of the wall) between expanse and engulfment. Made in collaboration with gastroenterologist Jim Wagonfeld, a 25-gallon vat of strawberry Jell-O mixed with blocks of resin was filmed with an endoscope. Schweder’s decision to use an imaging device normally employed to visualize the human body’s own poché in turn represents the architectural space in the video as fleshy. This is in contrast to architecture’s historical representation of and fantasies of perfect bodies.
Snowballing Doorway moves from the world of represented architectural fleshiness to architectural flesh itself. Two sac-like arches made from a combination of opaque and clear vinyl pass the same volume of poché (in this case air) back and forth until one of the two completely bulges to fill the aperture in which they are installed. This shifting skin is an example of what Schweder calls “a building that performs itself.” Here he is interested in how the codes of architecture act like a score for how occupants are supposed to “perform” the building. In this case, the arch prompts an occupant to “pass through” it. Schweder’s unstable arch, however, changes this instruction to its opposite when the poché passes into the upside-down arch on top. In this way, a viewer becomes aware of the way buildings structure the behavior in them.
Both works point to a permeability between buildings and the bodies that occupy them. The video, made using an edible treat, makes it unclear where insides and outsides of buildings and bodies start and stop. The inflatable instructions make explicit that buildings construct us in as much as we construct them.
Schweder’s desire to blur the boundaries between various media also references such art movements as Fluxus, the art collective Ant Farm, and such contemporary sculptors and performance artists as Carsten Höller and Erwin Wurm.