by Laura Phipps and Elisabeth Sherman


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The romance of “the studio” proves insidious. The pervasive image is of a magical place where visionary works are created and the artist stokes and tends to their own imaginings, taking only what they desire from the world just outside the walls. Mirages of drafty garrets in Paris or airy lofts in Manhattan are persistent despite their being often replaced by the computer screen and coffee shop. However, the romantic notion of the studio is fertile ground for Smith, a physical location where she labors at her paintings and a space of myths where origin tales are spun about art works and their creators.


The romance of the handmade is that the unique object speaks to the personality or culture of the individual that produced it. Through the Arts and Crafts Movement the fetishization of handicrafts moved such individual talents (of, say, lace making or wood carving) away from their origins as tools of necessity to positions of aspiration. While informed by these earlier design trends and celebrations of the artisan, Smith’s painting style is firmly contemporary, developed in a time when the computer is the tool of craftsperson. Smith again fetishizes the handmade, carefully and obsessively realizing her fantastical worlds in oil paint, the most traditional of mediums. She turns her tool on the unbelievable landscapes and fantastical bodies ubiquitous in our digital space.

The romance of the female form in Art Nouveau is based not in a straightforward sexualization of the body, but instead in the body’s role as a source of life. The function and form of the female body echoes the function and form of the objects she decorates. If a legacy of Arts and Crafts is that form should follow function, the function Smith is interested in is not the female body as decoration or progenitor, but rather as individual agent. Her neutered or transformed figures are not meant for reproduction but for action, be it violent or creative.


In conversation with Margot Norton
I’m working on a zombie-sex robot. Its body is based on an 18th-century ball-jointed wooden figure and I am incorporating silicon elements, from silicon sex dolls that are customizable. So it’s customizable in terms of what the sex doll market has to offer but not immediately ‘fuckable’. In conversation with Anna Gritz
Text by Whitney Mallett
I am most at home inside myself or so I think. Everything I buy becomes a part of me, a hateful new appendage to take care of just like Julio Cortázar warned me in his Instructions. If only I’d just bought a watch instead of the leathery couch, the bony lamp and the marble countertop which reminds me of my own veins slowly rising through the paleness of my leg. Where do I end and where does my house begin?
by Travis Diehl
Enter Paul Sepuya whose art stands like a lighthouse blinking in this storm. Sepuya’s use of his own body in his photographs is both an act of transparency as well as an assertion that his humanity is behind the work, not an algorithm, app or third party.