Moving personal items from one’s home into self-storage is a physical act, but tenants’ emotional attachment to their belongings and the space those items once occupied is largely a state of mind, according to New York artist Alex Schweder. The artist will explore this notion with customers of Manhattan Mini Storage and the general public beginning Oct. 16 with the launch of his conceptual art piece titled “Stored but Still Performed.”
Schweder has set up a consultation studio inside a 5-by-5-foot unit at Manhattan Mini Storage, 260 Spring St., in SoHo. Acting as a “performance architect,” he will conduct “performative apartment renovations” with volunteers. Participants will be interviewed about their home, focusing on the items they are storing and how they can re-conceptualize their living space.
“Objects occupy a special place,” Schweder said. “People pay not to throw them out. They can’t let go of them. So they become a satellite of the home.” Although items may be removed from a residence, Schweder will teach participants how to perform small rituals to help keep those connections intact. For example, someone who stores a sentimental set of dishes that belonged to her grandmother might re-enact a pose depicted in the pattern on one of the plates.
Participants who are not self-storage tenants can work with Schweder on “performative” exercises regarding apartment renovations as part of an ongoing work titled “Its Form Will Follow Your Performance.” The artist has helped people renovate homes through this method since 2009.
“Imagine wanting to renovate your home, but you have next to no budget, your time in the unit is temporary, there is no possibility of expanding the physical limits of your space, and you are hesitant to contribute to the landfill,” Schweder said. “Many people living in dense urban environments put off renovating for any one of these reasons. My architectural practice suggests that a substantial change in your home can occur by merely acting differently in it.”
Schweder describes many of his works as “performance architecture.” He has been a guest professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Institute for Art and Architecture in Vienna, the Pratt Institute, and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in architecture from the University of Cambridge in England.
“Alex’s work is fresh and edgy,” said Stacy Stuart, executive vice president of marketing and human resources for Edison Properties, the family-owned parent company of Manhattan Mini Storage. “But more importantly, we’re committed to making people feel secure in leaving their most personal belongings with us. So anything that helps them stay connected to their stuff is all for the better.”
Volunteers interested in serving as subjects for Schweder can make an appointment with the artist through his website, www.storedbutstillperformed.com.
Manhattan Mini Storage has 17 locations throughout Manhattan.
Edison Properties also owns and operates Edison ParkFast, a network of 40 garages and lots throughout Baltimore, New York City and Northeast New Jersey. The company's properties include workspace offices, executive offices and pre-built suites, The Hippodrome office building and The Ludlow, a luxury residential high-rise on the Lower East Side.