Alex Schweder La is hesitant to label his work or define it as belonging to one fixed category, be it art, sculpture or installation. His “performance architecture” is a mix of all three, underpinned by the central themes of places, people and spaces. How do we perceive our environment and react to it? And how in turn is this interaction reflected in our surroundings? From transparent, inflatable rooms to giant see-saw structures, ASL explores the relationship between human behaviour and the built environment. We spoke to him to find out more…
Hi Alex, We’re really fascinated by your work – how would you describe it to people that are unfamiliar with what you do?
The central concern my work explores is how people (subjects) think about who they are and who they would like to be through their environment (objects). The most successful of the experiments along these lines uses a process similar to psychoanalysis to open up an occupant to the point where they become aware of kinks in their relationship to them selves and others through space. Then together we make a work of performance art that implicates the space they inhabit.
Are you more interested in creating and playing with temporary architecture than permanent structures?
I don’t think this needs to be an “either/or” decision. Rather, I think that my work mines the tension between architectures of longer and shorter duration. I can see why you would ask this though, I am drawn more to the relatively under-investigated area of architecture that is performative.
Observing how people interact with your projects must be important…
I am very interested in how people interact with the works I make, in fact I would say that these works are not complete until people interact with them. Each work affects behaviour differently and even the same work will prompt different behaviours from different people. I don’t think that there can be a one-to-one relationship between spaces and inhabitants. Success for me comes when people treat the works I make like a John Cage score, something with a bit of structure but a lot of room for interpretation.
Right now I am working on a project for the Marrakech Biennial curated by Nadim Samman and Carson Chan that opens in February. Additionally I am working with a group identifying themselves as Object Sexuals whose romantic inclinations are toward objects. For one individual, Erika Eiffel, I am making a spouse.