Josh Schwebel

Residency 4: Morphallaxis 03

Timescale: 6 weeks from 8 April 2011

Josh Schwebel (b.1980, Canada) produces work which is determined by a sustained interest in catalyzing situations for uncertainty. Through a particular action, initiative, or process, he attempts to concatenate tensions inherent in a system of expectation. He is interested in the context and conditions by which art takes place, and is compelled to poke his finger into the loopholes that art permits.

Schwebel’s current practice questions the relation between art, the gallery, and the public. Artists working in the gallery system presuppose that art in exhibition is public, and assume that a gallery is a place where art and public meet. But who is this ‘public’? How public is it? Too often artists take for granted how a public is composed, and the publicity methods employed by exhibition spaces to predetermine publics.

Schwebel uses interventions and deceptions in his practice to pursue these questions. Often the act of displacing something from its proper or expected place draws out differences by emphasizing the disparity between what is expected and what is encountered.  By removing an object, in this case the role of the public, from where it is supposed to be, one suddenly comes to see it differently, outside of its habitual quotidian.

During his residency at ArtFunkl Schwebel will carrying out research for a new project which utilizes the phenomenon of lost luggage as the vehicle for a critical investigation of habitual practices. This study is based around the construction of a lost luggage situation at an airport (possibly Manchester), and the resultant activities and consequences surrounding this initial gesture. In engaging in such activities Scwebel strives to interrupt the correspondence between the object and its assumed channels of function as a method of challenging the futility of the absurd gestures which are accepted and unchallenged in our everyday operation.

Plagiarism, documentation of intervention
This project began out of circumstances during Schwebel’s MFA work, an offshoot of which led him to begin removing (stealing) small items (see top right) from the office of the director of the program.  He was exasperated but not angered by most of these disturbances, with the exception of a single black leather glove, for which an extensive search was carried out. As with other of the items lifted, Schwebel had gifted the glove to a collector/curator in the city using a standard museum-approved deed of gift. By the time that its disappearance had been discovered it had already left the artist’s possession.  Robin Metcalfe, the recipient of the glove depicted in this photograph, decided that he would return the glove to Dr. Barber, and so he left it anonymously in Bruce’s home mailbox.

Sinister, documentation of intervention: found black leather gloves
Schwebel has since begun mailing ‘replacement’ black leather gloves anonymously to Dr. Barber’s home.  He has been finding these gloves on the subway and streets.  The collection numbers over 20, of which an increasing number finds its way to Halifax. Schwebel has heard nothing from Dr. Barber to this regard.