Looking & Longing exhibition

In May 2020 SqW:Lab director, Charlie Levine, was invited by 2018-19 fellow John Ros to deliver a spring short course on studioELL. studioELL is a Brooklyn-based, hybrid, transient, higher education fine art learning space that offers online and physical courses, residencies and programs in studio art.

Charlie decided to write a series of lecture and instructions for the artists / students that was an extension of her SqW:Lab 2020 Play Project – curating the home. The course, Curating the Domestic, asked the students to complete the module via the production of works for an exhibition to exist on the studioELL website. This curatorial focused short course invited participants to use their immediate surroundings to dive into personal and art historical research and develop exhibitions and artworks around ideas of ‘home’ within their domestic space.

Entitled Looking & Longing, this final exhibition included works by 2 SqW:Lab alumni Veeranganakumari Solanki and John Ros, and Director Vishwa Shroff, as well as Karen Levitov, William Hughes, Caitlin Griffiths, Jeannine Bardo, Melissa Staiger, Gemma Dunford, David Flindall and Laurie Nouchka.

Looking & Longing is curated into three themed rooms: Surfaces, Frames and Levels. Each ‘room’ exhibits a mix of the artists work and highlights ideas bought up as part of the workshops — bringing their natural visual surroundings to the fore.

Curatorial tropes, such as frames, plinths / shelves and the exploration of space, are evident is this series of works. The artists are all thinking curatorially with focus on context (the domestic) and space (our current environments) as much as what is within them (the objects, photographs, works of art or themselves).

This exhibition is available online on the studioELL website.

Top left: Untitled, Vishwa Shroff – Top right: 139 skillman avenue, 001-100, John Ros, Right: 139 skillman avenue, video, John Ros

Bottom: Domestic Outside, Veeranganakumari Solanki

Looking at: Memory Architecture Play Project

Looking through Zarina Hashmi’s print series “Homes I Made a Life in Nine Lines, 1997” and “Home is a Foreign Place, 1999”, Memory Architecture Play project investigates our notion and perception of homes trough mnemonic recollections. It aims to question spatial distortions of scale, objects and activities summoned during the process of recall.

While in Mumbai, fellows were asked to narrate their childhood homes, highlighting the experience of that space whilst responding to House + 1, a text that recalls Shroff’s home from 1980 to 84.

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Looking at: the Tender Buttons PlayProject

Following in Gertrude Stein’s footsteps, the project was an exercise in the “defamiliarization of the familiar while simultaneously familiarizing the unfamiliar”. The exercise thus provided a lens through which to reframe the everyday. It was an encouragement to ‘switch’ between familiar and normative modes of production, media, and poetics.

While in Mumbai, poems were distributed amongst participants, which they were encouraged to interpret as a pair, through drawings, doodles, poems, responses, photographs, sculptures, conversations, fiction, or even just by moving familiar objects around in a surprising way. These are taken from two of Stein’s categories: OBJECTS and FOOD. At the end of the residency, results from this period were selected for the studio presentation.

For this session, participants took inspiration from objects found around the home.

Adam, Vishwa & Kyoko, Furniture Family Tree. Photographs & text.

Rose & Vee, Tribune. Mixed media.

Goto, Ana & Charlie, There/Their. Video.

For the second session, the fellows were taken on a visit to Crawford Market.

Adam & Rose, A cress, A crescent, A cross. Photograph and films.

Charlie & Kyoko, Single Fish. Installation.

Goto & Vee, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar. Mixed media.

Vishwa & Ana, Dining Shrine. Installation.


Looking at: the Curate the Home PlayProject

For Charlie’s 2020 Play Project, ‘Curate the Home’, the fellows headed to Gulzar’s Home Stay  with artist, Nibha Sikander. The fellows were paired off in their inviter / invitee duos and each given an envelope. In there they found paper, pens, tape and crayons (all from the poundshop) and an image. Each envelope contained a different image of an artist who had make work specifically in / for a domestic setting.

The Play Project ‘rules’ were to find a space in the home stay and curate two projects – a solo show by one of the duo, and the second a response to the image found in the envelope.

Here are the works made by each duo (or single trio as Nibha joined Charlie and Adam’s group) with the inspiration images.

Adam, Charlie & Nibha

Part 1 – mobiles designed by Adam with interventions by Nibha upon a couple of them.

Part 2 – in response to Richard Wentworth’s intervention in Hans Ulrich Obrist’s 1991 The Kitchen Show. Adam, Charlie and Nibha used the paper cut out remnants to create platforms / stages for found objects in Nibha’s house – the found objects being her artworks.

Ana & Rose

Responding to the below image by Paul Newman, Ana and Rose created rubbings, made with their fingers pressing into the paper over ‘imperfections’ found in things in and outside of the house.  They then exhibited these on the staircase in the house on surface plains similar to those where the original rubbings were made. Ana and Rose then contextualised these works in an art historical and philosophical way through a performance essay.

Kyoko and Goto

Inspired by the Louise Lawler image above, Kyoko and Goto wanted to present a piece of work in the kitchen to mimic the composition. Keeping the fridge to the right of the frame and the artwork to the left, they bought the outside in (a papaya tree branch that they found fallen from a tree) and built a plinth for it – like the Jeff Koons piece. This piece was also kinetic, with the papaya’s falling from the tree onto the upturned cooking pot.

Veeranganakumari and Vishwa

Vee and Vishwa created a series of invitations curated by VS & VS (their initials), each invite had a quote written on the back by Vee that Vishwa had said whilst making the work. The fellows were invited to then search for the work made by Vishwa, the final piece being a drawing of the household space the fellows had to navigate to find it – the staircase.


Trip to Gulzar Homestay


For part of SqW:Lab 2020 the fellows travelled to the main island by boat to Raigad for a nights stay and realistion of Play Project: Curate the Home at the Gulzar Homestay.

As guests of artist Nibha Sikander, the fellows broke up into pair to respond to the play project brief, to find a space in / around the house and create a piece of work / exhibition inspired by an image in a ‘pack’. Each pack contained crayons, paper, tape, felt tips (all from a UK pound shop) and an image Charlie had selected from exhibitions realised in domestic spaces, including Iain Baxter& ‘Bagged Place’ , Paul Newman’s wall drawing detail from ’18th Storey: the Haddon Tower Project’, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ‘The Kitchen Show’, and Louise Lawler’s image ‘Foreground.’

All works were installed and exhibited for a pne night only exhibition for the fellows and Nibha only. Each duo (or trio in the case of Adam Nathaniel Furman, Charlie Levine and Nibha Sikander) then did a guided tour of their works. This was after the fellows walked to the beach to catch the sunset.