DESIRE BOUNCING: Survey of Alex Schweder’s Performance Architecture Works, 2001- 2016, with Alejandro Campins and Nancy Mitchnick

  • DETROIT, Michigan
  • /
  • February 04, 2016

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Alex Schweder, “The Sound and The Future”, 2016, Metallic vinyl and faux fur, 15' x 15' x 15'

EXHIBITION DATES: February 5 – April 9, 2016

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, February 5, 2016, 6 – 10 PM. 

Wasserman Projects presents Desire Bouncing, an exhibition featuring Performance Architecture works by Alex Schweder, with participation by Alejandro Campins and Nancy Mitchnick. The exhibition highlights performative works by Schweder, created between 2001 and present, including sculptures, models, paintings, prints, and a site-specific, large-scale inflatable installation, complemented by a group of architecture-inspired paintings by Campins and Mitchnick. Comprising more than a dozen works, the exhibition will explore the relationships between art, architecture, place, site, and the urban condition.

Alejandro Campins, “Eastown Theater”, 2015, Oil on canvas, 60” x 78”

“Desire Bouncing demonstrates our continued commitment to bringing together different disciplines under one roof,” says Gary Wasserman, founder of Wasserman Projects.  Gallery Director, Alison Wong describes, “The exhibition navigates the past, present, and future of architectural landscapes through the artists’ personal and unique take on the world around them.”

Meeting at the intersection of architecture and performance art, Schweder’s ‘performance architecture’ is based on a notion that the relationships between occupied spaces and occupying objects are permeable. Often interactive, Schweder’s installations aim to break the rules of architecture that normally cause us as occupants of a space to act a certain way, challenging visitors’ expectations and perceptions. His provocative examinations of our relationship with our environments have brought the artist international acclaim with solo exhibitions in the US, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Israel. Wasserman Projects has presented Schweder’s installation “Evaporative Buildings” at Eastern Market After Dark in conjunction with Detroit Design Festival in September 2015.

Nancy Mitchnick, “Framed”, 2016, Oil on canvas, 77” x 111”

Desire Bouncing will offer viewers the opportunity to observe and interact with Schweder’s objects and spaces. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a large-scale inflatable installation The Sound and The Future (2016), created specially for this exhibition and scored to a remix of altered sample tracks from Detroit's techno collective, Underground Resistance. Measuring 15’ x 15’ x15’ and covered in metallic vinyl and faux fur, this “architectural robot” will use fan-blown air to inflate and deflate its “limbs,” which will allow it to move freely in the gallery creating different spaces that require other occupants to interpret how they will behave in relation to it.

Also included in the exhibition is a model of “Counterweight Roommate,” a 5-story self-contained living unit with facilities for eating, sleeping, and working, created with Ward Shelley and presented at Scope Basel in 2011. The project was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York – one of only a handful of performance art works to be included in its permanent collection. A sculptural work from Peescapes, Schweder’s 2001 series will be on display as well as recent text-based works, drawings, and paintings.

Schweder’s work speaks to more than just the built structure but also how it informs us to act and interact with objects and environments. His works challenge norms and existing standards of architecture, specifically in the series Peescapes which calls into question the gendering of public toilets. Schweder’s work covers a wide range, with a nod to history as well as a glimpse to what may lie ahead. The Sound and The Future takes an optimistic approach to the possibilities that may be, propelling forward with pleasure and agency. Charged with this energy, the work is simultaneously playful in its material and movements as well as imposing in its scale and forced interactions.  

Simultaneously, Desire Bouncing will feature architecture-inspired works by a Cuban painter, Alejandro Campins, and Detroit-based artist Nancy Mitchnick. While Schweder’s “The Sound and The Future” invites the viewer to physically interact with the structure, the paintings of Campins and Mitchnick appeal to our emotional connection to architecture. Campins’ two oversized, sober, atmospheric paintings, inspired by Detroit’s iconic theaters, exemplify his romantic vision of the urban landscapes. In his works, Campins is able to capture physical places that exist only in memories, recreating the gone past and glimpsing the future to come. Concurrently with Desire Bouncing, he will have his first New York solo exhibition Lapse at Sean Kelly Gallery (Feb 12 – March 12).       

Detroit based Mitchnick will be exhibiting several paintings from her on ongoing series “Detroit: dismantling cities in Middle America”. The works stem from her love affair with the city and the beauty that she finds in it. Mitchnick describes the structures in her paintings as “monuments to their former communities” and the series as a “love-poem to abandoned neighborhoods”. Mitchnick will open a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on May 6.


Alex Schweder works with architecture and performance art to complicate the distinction between occupying subjects and occupied objects. These projects include Practise Architecture at Tate Britain, Flatland at New York’s Sculpture Center, Its Form Follows Your Performance at Berlin’s Magnus Muller, A Sac of Rooms All Day Long at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Counterweight Roommate in Scope Basel, Roomographat the deCordova Museum, and The Rise and fall in the Marrakech Biennial.  The Pollack Krasner and Graham Foundations have funded his projects. Schweder is the author of Stalls Between Walls included in Ladies and Gents, the Gendering of Public Toilets and Performance Architecture included in Urban Interiors. He is a three-time artist in residence at the Kohler Company and was in residence at the Chinati Foundation and American Academy in Rome. Schweder has been a guest professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Pratt Institute, and the Institute for Art and Architecture in Vienna.


Informed with a romantic vision, Alejandro Campins’ work invites viewers to inhabit a place synthesized by the dialectic between history and memory.  His sober, atmospheric paintings question the ephemerality of life, creating imagery that reflects the way people and places change as a result of circumstance. Buildings, monuments, and heroes diminish with time and the weakening of ideology.  Campins explores the empty states and memories left behind, mining them for remnants of their former vitality.  In his paintings, abandoned places take on a power that viewers imagine would have been missing in their earlier states.  His work evokes metaphysical scenes with the dynamics of interpreted reality and fiction, capturing the beauty in emptiness and silence.


Nancy Mitchnick started out in Detroit’s Cass Corridor. She moved to New York City in 1973, drove a taxi, worked in an after-hours joint, assisted Brice Marden, raised her daughter, taught at Bard College, and, after ten years, had a well-received exhibition at Hirschl & Adler Modern, and two years later another one. Mitchnick’s work is emotional and strong, often various and sometimes humorous. Museums own her work. Interesting people have collected it. She is an innovative teacher; she was a full-time member of the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts for ten years, and was the Rudolph Arnheim Lecturer on Studio Arts at Harvard University for 15 years. Mitchnick has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant and a National Endowment for the Arts award. Most recently she was a recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award at Harvard College.


Launched in September 2015, Wasserman Projects is a flexible and constantly evolving program of art, design, and music that brings together artists of all disciplines. Our mission is to promote the work of outstanding practitioners based locally and around the globe by hosting exhibitions, conversations, and supporting creativity wherever we can be useful. Through collaborations and programming that generates interest, curiosity, and commerce, our goal is to become one of the many threads in the vibrant fabric that is Detroit.       

Whenever. Wherever. Art + Music

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