Alex Schweder, installation view, the Ice Plant, August 2009

Alex Schweder

Alex Schweder makes art about architecture: the way we inhabit it, the way it inhabits us, and the sometimes porous border between the two. He refers to his work as “performance architecture” in order to emphasize the bodily nature of his objects and installations.

Schweder was trained as an architect; he moved into art to better explore his interest in bodies in space and the space in bodies. In the artist’s own words, his work investigates “the permeability between buildings and the bodies that occupy them. We construct our built world; it thereafter constructs us as occupying subjects.”

Schweder’s exhibitions at the Ice Plant and the Locker Plant were designed specifically for those locales, and both invited or allowed for the active participation of visitors/viewers. At the Locker Plant, text pieces installed on walls and floors invited visitors to perform simples operations in order to alter the dynamics of the space. A sample floor-text spanning two rooms: “Inhale this warmer room, exhale it into the cooler room, until their temperatures are the same.”

At the Ice Plant two works, one indoors and one out, made use of video projectors and mechanically induced precipitation. In the courtyard, sprinklers made mist, which served as a “screen” for a cyclical loop of video projections: green rectangular shapes, recessed one behind another, which rose, fell, and moved through the mist in ever-shifting patterns.

Inside the Ice Plant, more green shapes were projected into a small-scale artificial snowstorm. (Two snow-making machines in the rafters provided the snowfall.) Both indoors and out, the projected shapes resembled stacked architectural sections at one moment, phantasmal apertures the next: unreliable exits and entrances, flickering greenly in the mist and snow.

Alex Schweder has a Bachelors degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute (1993) and a Masters in Architecture from Princeton University (1998). He was a Fellow of Architecture at the American Academy of Rome in 2006. Since his switch from architecture to art in the early ’00s, he has exhibited work in many galleries and museums in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a 2009 Pollock-Krasner grant.