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Joshua Schwebel: Accommodations, 2020 

Joshua Schwebel 

Accommodations, 2020 

Three studio couches replacing the originals at Pakrantė, consignment agreement, maintenance equipment.

The Pakrantė building in which Rupert operates its artists’ residency is called a Centre for Creative Industries. Apart from Rupert’s office and the three residency studios, the rest of the building is rented to for-profit startups, programmers and app developers. The website of the building’s architect makes no reference to this tenancy, referring only to the building as a space for artists, while Pakrantė’s website emphasises vaguely how the building is a ‘creative space’. I argue that the presence of artists in this building is instrumentalised to substantiate Pakrantė’s nebulous creative identity.

Despite these frequent references to art and creativity, the interior of Pakrantė and its custom-designed furniture manifests the building’s true loyalty to office work. As an artist in residence at Rupert, living full-time in a space that is designed to be other peoples’ office is exhausting. The couches that furnish the studios, designed by associates of the architect to support ‘meetings between creative and business representatives’, but not designed either for artistic production or for a hospitable living space, are just very uncomfortable to sit or lie on. For my contribution to the exhibition, I have replaced the couches with more comfortable furniture. My project is intended to disrupt the extraction of creative productivity from the artists in residence, and to re-inscribe an acknowledgement of the space as not only a workspace, but as a living space for artists, and therefore to support laziness, comfort, unprofessionalism and rest. 

The new furniture I have acquired for this is intended to exist beyond the duration of the exhibition: their emplacement is underwritten by a consignment agreement displayed in the gallery, which designates the replacement couches as art objects, and commits Rupert’s curatorial staff to take care of them using maintenance equipment that I have made. 

Joshua Schwebel is a Canadian conceptual artist living in Berlin. His artistic work reconfigures administrative and bureaucratic forms to expose compromises between artistic and economic value systems, and to show how neoliberalism operates through contemporary art. As a trans person who passes as white, cis and male, he uses these intersecting expressions of privilege to infiltrate and deconstruct institutional authority.