Alex Schweder: Rehearsal Space

Organized by Henry Urbach and Cole Akers

Over the course of two weeks, New York-based artist Alex Schweder participated in the cultural life of the Glass House campus while occupying a mobile living unit temporarily situated alongside the Brick House. Speculating that architecture is enacted as well as built, Rehearsal Space comprised a portable accommodation (combining a van, a scissor lift, and an inflatable room) that anticipates the Glass House’s potential artist residency program.

Connected to the Brick House by a power cord, Schweder’s van contains an inflatable room that can be raised twenty-two feet in the air by a hydraulic system. An interior control panel allows the artist to toggle the furniture between a sofa and a bed. The entrance, which is also a private shower and bathroom, serves as an air hatch that balanced the interior air pressure. While in residence, Schweder lived in the inflatable room and worked on a manuscript about “performance architecture” in Philip Johnson’s Studio.

The Brick House and the Glass House, designed by Johnson and completed in 1949, form a two-part composition that challenged ideas about domesticity in midcentury America. Connected by a gravel path across a landscaped courtyard, the Glass House and Brick House counterpose transparency and opacity. Although the Glass House and its grounds opened to the public in 2007, the Brick House was closed shortly thereafter because of water infiltration. The National Trust for Historic Preservation continues to raise funds to restore the structure.

Schweder’s project was originally commissioned as the hotel rehearsal by the 2013 Biennial of the Americas in Denver for the exhibition “Draft Urbanism,” curated by Paul Anderson, Carson Chan, Gaspar Libidinsky, and Abaseh Mivali. Rehearsal Space was the project’s first presentation outside of Denver.

Alex Schweder works with architecture and performance art to question the separation of occupying subjects and occupied objects. His projects have been exhibited at Tate Britain; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sculpture Center, New York; Magnus Müller, Berlin; the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Biennial of the Americas, the Lisbon Architectural Triennial, the Moscow Biennial, and the Marrakech Biennial. He has been artist-in-residence at the Kohler Company, the Chinati Foundation, and the American Academy in Rome, and has taught at SCI-ARC, the Architectural Association, and the Institute for Art and Architecture, Vienna.

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