BRUSSELS.- Galerie Rodolphe Janssen
presents the first exhibition of the Still House Group in Europe.
The Still House Group is an emerging arts organization, artist-run and based in New York.
Still House supports a unit of eight young artists (born between 1985 and 1988), providing them with an environment to conceptualize, produce and exhibit their work. The strong emphasis on collaboration encourages members of the group to assist, critique and formally represent one another, ultimately creating a collective drive that balances the advancement of individual careers with the growth of Still House the entity.
Founded in 2007 by Isaac Brest and Alex Perweiler as an online viewing platform, Still House has produced numerous exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. During 2010, the group conducted an eight month residency in an abandoned Department of Transportation office in TriBeCa, and has since built a permanent, multi-faceted arts institution currently based in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
This location serves as a hub for new work, a satellite environment to the art center of Manhattan where young artists engage in a space of their own. The upcoming exhibition at Rodolphe Janssen will be the first exhibition outside the United States that will exhibit the group in its entirety.
Discussion between Rodolphe Janssen and Isaac Brest, member of The Still House Group
When and how did you start the Still House Group ?
Alex Perweiler and I founded the group in 2007. We were surrounded by a number of talented artists ages 18-21 who had no real outlet to produce, exhibit or archive their work. We learned soon that this group had an impressive synergy and knew that it was necessary to become organized ...to harness the creative capacity and nurture it through the initial period of gestation, and beyond.
Were you already 8 members when you started? Has the group evolved ?
We started as around a dozen. It was only a website at the time, as we had little-to no resources and this was all we were capable of. An online presence is almost free. It only costs time, which we had plenty of as 20 year olds. The group has now evolved much more as a production platform than an exhibition platform. All our time, energy and funding goes into production. We feel that if the work is strong exhibition opportunities will follow, whereas when we began I feel it was all about having the work out there and part of the dialogue, regardless if it was ready or not.
How do you work together ? Do you criticize, advise, help
each other ?
The environment we work in is highly collaboarative. From physical assistance, to harsh critiques, positive reinforcement to the sharing of reference material, all work goes though the Still House filter to a certain degree. Ultimately, however, our goal is to produce singular artists with unique perspectives and output. The group is merely a way to strengthen the individual.
Have you kept your online platform ? Do you believe in the internet being of any help in the democratization of art ?
Yes and yes. Without the internet, what we do would never have been or continue to be possible. The web allows a certain meritocracy to take effect, which permits young, unrepresented artists to reach the eyes of collectors, artists, curators and enthusiasts. It weakens the displaces the power from the traditional arbiters of taste and lets individuals trust their own opinions to a greater degree.
How do you choose the artists you invite in residence ?
We mainly just look for artists who are different that what we have in the group. This can be as simple as their age or the city they come from, and as complex as their process, goals, mediums and social temperament. Its not only a way to show support for people we find exceptional, but to add to the conversation and diversity of the studio, which aids the progress of our core group immensely. Good residents are hard to find though, because its not enough that they make great work. They need to value our format and model, and be good collaborators. That is paramount.
Can you think of other artists groups in Art History ?
Yes, but we try and focus more on present conditions, as I feel times have changed drastically even from a decade or two ago. Older models are relatively obsolete, since the climate that birthed them and that they reacted to have little resemblance to ours.
Do you see the Still House Group as a long term project ?
Yes. It has no other goal than to constantly evolve and adapt to the current conditions and needs of its artists.
With the Still House group, you provide a non standard process for young artists, giving them a platform outside of the traditional set up. Can you develop the idea behind this process?
Its a simple idea that revolves around maximized collaboration with minimal interference. The process cuts out a lot of boundaries and limitations, allowing a more direct artist-viewer relationship. The model prides itself in providing its artists with the best possible environment in which to produce work, with the proper resources, critical dialogue and financial structure to allow them to push themselves and go beyond what would be possible on their own. The group faciliates each individual artist to grow and mature at an accelerated, but tempered state.
Your studios are built around an exhibition place. Which means that the visitor can visit both the gallery and the studios at the same time. Do you think the context influences the viewer ?
100%. I always felt that it was a shame that there is often a disconnect between collectors and artists, final product and process. This strives to eradicate that.
What are the influences on the group? (music, art, books, subcultures..)
The most prominent influence is probably on another. Each individual however, is influenced significantly by the history of art and the ability to view art in depth via the offerings of New York, our collection of books and the depth of the internet.
What binds the 8 members of the group together ?
A crude sense of humor.