Kim Schoenstadt’s research into architecture began almost by accident, waiting for buses in lobbies in Chicago.
'In downtown Chicago, you live with big obvious architecture, and many of the larger buildings had architectural drawings in their lobbies,' she says. 'The MCA Chicago at the time was a very small museum run by Jan van der Marck, who used every square inch of the former Playboy offices to exhibit work – even the back stairwell had a sound installation in it by Max Neuhaus. For me, this was a big moment of "AH HA!" that showed me the way that art could change my relationship to the space. A bland stairwell became activated architecture – a place of wonder.'
Sightline Construction Series – a new presentation at Chimento Gallery, Los Angeles, displayed as part of the show 'Kim Schoenstadt: New Work' – marks a distinct departure from earlier works. In the place of her previous large, site-specific installations at the MCA Chicago and Sabine Knust Galerie, Munich, Schoenstadt is coming off the wall, and onto shaped wood, using wire to extend lines outwards, protruding into the space around her new pieces. 'The source material is approached differently as well. I used my archive of drawings from the past year's projects to combine buildings based on conceptual content and visual forms,' the artist explains.
Those buildings include examples of Hollywood's modernist architecture: the Vandamm House, seen in the climax of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest; the ‘Hall of Doom’ from Hanna-Barbera’s 1970s animated series Super Friends; and Fred Fisher’s plans for a Gorilla Husbandry Facility at the LA zoo, proposed in 1989. Together, the structures all mediate on a common trait: to enclose formidable power.
She says, 'These new pieces involve a more pared down focused study of three specific buildings remixed to make a new impossible form and story. I provide the source material for each work in the gallery so the viewer can create their own narrative of how they interact. I feel I have at least three different stories for each work.'
Presented in parallel to Schoenstadt's new body of ‘sculptural incidents’ is Book Truck #1, for which she invited local artists and curators to loan a book they are currently using in their practice, building a small library that provides an insight into what’s currently on the mind of LA’s creative scene – and into how that might manifest in their work in the near future. The books are being displayed on a specially designed truck, inspired by ones Schoenstadt had seen at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.
'When given the opportunity to make a new project where I can invite other artists to participate, I jump at it. These projects always have the possibility to totally fail because they count on "the kindness of strangers" but people always seem come through. We have set up a comfortable place to sit and peruse the library in the gallery.'