Artists Infiltrate Los Angeles IKEA in Guerrilla “Residency”



LOS ANGELES — Earlier this summer season, artists Sophie Lynn Morris and Thomas Macie met on the Burbank IKEA retailer, grabbed a cup of espresso, and wheeled their carts by means of the staged show rooms of reasonably priced Scandi furnishings and onto the warehouse, mixing in with scores of {couples}, roommates, and households.

Artist pair Leah Clancy and Michael Haight at IKEA (photograph courtesy the artists)

Morris appeared up exact aisle and bin coordinates she had written down on a pad, however as an alternative of finding flat-packed parts for a settee or desk, she discovered a column {that a} employee’s forklift had smashed into, leaving a gash within the plaster. She pulled out a bathtub of IKEA’s MÅLA modeling dough and pressed it into the outlet, then rigorously eliminated the forged and saved it safely in a cardboard field like an archaeological specimen. Different coordinates led them to an extended crack within the concrete ground, which they coated with sheets of MÅLA coloured paper, making a rubbing of the fissure with MÅLA crayons. Macie then discovered a quiet aisle and took out a handful of pennies, hammering them into the holes of 1 leg of the shelving items that unfold all through the cavernous warehouse, making a site-specific work with nods to each Donald Judd’s Minimalist stacks and the modular nature of IKEA’s furnishings.

Morris and Macie are contributors within the first-ever IKEA Residency, a non-official, guerrilla program based by artists and writers Mary Boo Anderson and Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf. The pair instructed Hyperallergic that they created the residency in response to the disappearance of public areas the place individuals can congregate free of charge. In addition they cited as inspiration the work of Man Ben-Ner, who used IKEA showrooms as units to surreptitiously movie Stealing Beauty (2007), a pseudo-sitcom starring his household.

Though it’s a multinational company, IKEA blurs the road between private and non-private, presenting a welcoming ambiance the place individuals can collect, eat a meal, and stroll aspirationally by means of clear, utilitarian interiors.

“The concept is to capitalize on this mecca of capitalism for extra artistic, genuine pursuits,” the residency’s web site explains. The residency provides no stipend or studio, however as an alternative an open-ended invitation for cross-disciplinary collaboration, dialog, and creation.

Grant LoParo in a nonetheless from a movie by Caitlin Forst and Robben Muñoz shot at IKEA Burbank (picture courtesy of the artists)

After placing out a name on Instagram, they obtained about 75 purposes, from which they selected 14 artists and writers. They grouped them in pairs, linking some primarily based on similarities of their work, and bringing others collectively whose completely different practices they thought would make for fascinating collaborations. The one stipulation is that every artist pair needed to meet at IKEA as soon as, after which rejoin the entire group for a dinner (at IKEA’s cafe, after all) to debate the expertise. The outcomes various broadly, with some duos creating work at IKEA and about IKEA and others merely utilizing the shop as a type of co-working area to brainstorm and work by means of completely different ideas.

Morris and Macie’s collaboration addresses controversies over IKEA’s wood sourcing practices and what they see as a coverage of “greenwashing” to masks the Swedish firm’s deleterious environmental impact. Their rubbings and play-dough castings spotlight cracks in IKEA’s serene capitalist facade.

Sophie Lynn Morris and Thomas Macie’s play-dough castings (picture courtesy the artists)

“We’re asking, ‘how will you be an moral shopper?’” Macie stated. “And the impossibility of that,” adopted Morris. For higher or worse, IKEA is a ubiquitous characteristic of up to date American life, providing reasonably priced, well-designed, if typically short-lived merchandise. Each artists have beforehand integrated IKEA merchandise into their work, evincing their ubiquity.

Flooring rubbing at IKEA Burbank by Sophie Lynn Morris and Thomas Macie (photograph courtesy the artists)

Rosie Mayer and Emma Peters additionally sought to undermine the location’s inherent commercialism, overlaying an IKEA desk with their drawings of IKEA furnishings and meals, filtered by means of their household recollections, and reproduced on a Risograph press. The desk can be used as the location of an artwork swap at Mayer’s artwork area in Atwater Village, Nova Community Arts

Jacky Tran instructed Hyperallergic he had all however given up on the artwork world not too long ago, having moved from social observe to a extra financially secure place as a copywriter. For the residency, he spent a day at IKEA interviewing clients and staff about their lives. “Am I again in Social Apply?” he mused. His interviews can be joined in a zine with contributions from author Cora Lee, who traveled up from San Diego for the residency.

Artist Michael Haight and author Leah Clancy spent hours at IKEA, discussing a number of concepts over the course of two meals, earlier than deciding on a collaboration through which Clancy will craft new narratives primarily based on Haight’s evocative work. Haight is such a giant fan of IKEA that he traveled to Sweden simply to go to the primary IKEA retailer. “It’s like microdosing utopia,’’ he stated.

Thomas Macie hammering pennies into shelving unit at IKEA Burbank (photograph Matt Stromberg/Hyperallergic)

With a nod to Ben-Ner’s cinematic intervention, Caitlin Forst and Robben Muñoz filmed a collection of dream reenactments — each unconscious and aspirational — at IKEA that includes their artist mates. Forst notes that IKEA’s maze-like warren of showrooms and “liminal areas” made for an ideal setting for his or her fantastical situations.

IKEA Residency dinner on July 15, 2023, at IKEA Burbank (photograph Matt Stromberg/Hyperallergic)

On the post-residency dinner, over plates of Swedish meatballs, smoked salmon, and lingonberry jam, Anderson and Blair-Schlagenhauf celebrated the success of the residency’s preliminary spherical, with future editions deliberate for the autumn and winter. They shrugged off considerations that the mega-retailer would go after them in gentle of IKEA’s official Artist in Residence program, which was introduced in April with Annie Leibovitz as the primary artist.

“If IKEA sues us, I’ll be thrilled,” Blair-Schlagenhauf quipped. “However I don’t assume they’re a really litigious firm. It could be one factor if we had been wreaking havoc, however we’re utilizing it as the general public area that’s.”

Flooring rubbing at IKEA Burbank by Sophie Lynn Morris and Thomas Macie (photograph courtesy the artists)


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