Joe Scanlan

Year and place of birth: 1961, Columbus (Ohio), United States Location: New York City (New York), United States

Joe Scanlan is not only a writer and critic, but also an installation artist, and he occupies a unique place in conceptually inspired postmodern art. He made his debut in America in the early 1990s. A few years later, he also broke through internationally, chiefly in Europe. Scanlan’s oeuvre is extremely diverse, ranging from sculpture and design to publications and the creation of fictitious characters.

Many of Scanlan’s works contain subtleties through which he questions systems such as sociology and economics while also interrogating the nature of art. His objects and installations – which he describes as ‘products’ – can be described as ‘hypothetically useful’. At first glance, his ‘products’ seem to be clearly inspired by everyday, functional objects. But what is missing is the efficient realisation of their function.

In the words of the artist: “In some ways I find entrepreneurialism more dynamic and patient than art. These days art pretty much runs on an art fair cycle. But even the most conservative venture capitalist will give an idea five years to pan out. So, in that way capitalism can be more accommodating of risk and contingency and loss than art is.” Scanlan emphasises and questions the economic pressure on art and does so with an economic strategy rather than an artistic one.

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