Each spring, summer, and fall Artpace invites three artists to participate in a two-month residency, culminating in a two-month exhibition. During the two months of his Artpace residency, Coolquitt presented five ”legit” exhibitions, a term he describes as ”utilizing the prevalent theatrical configuration of the white cube to present a limited number of discrete objects.” Coolquitt will remain “in-residence” at Artpace through what would traditionally be the two-month exhibition period, extending his residency to four months.
How do you approach art making?
I think a lot about the practicalities. What is the nature of this thing? What are the logistics? In architecture practice, you would say, “What is the program?” This is both a method of avoiding a lonely studio practice focused on my problems and performing a role in society more akin to the technocrat or the soldier. It’s a boring and tedious business, but of course most people think it’s magic, so there’s that.
How do you approach a traditional residency like Artpace? Tell us about your “legit” exhibitions and what role they play in the two-month residency as a whole.
Since this residency places so much importance on the resulting exhibition, this was my first question. What is the nature of an exhibition that results from a specific residency? And since the space of the exhibition is also the space of the studio—which is key—what is the relationship between the studio and the exhibition? Why are the two given exactly the same time duration?
Can I extend the studio time into the exhibition time? Can I present exhibitions during the studio time? I became obsessed with that millisecond in which the studio space becomes the exhibition space. This was the starting point for my investigations.
How/when/why did you start collecting objects?
I started collecting things when I was a kid. My first collection was whiskey bottles. I would roam around in the woods and find these empty bottles; I guess I just thought they were pretty. And exotic. Maybe a way to escape the oppressive Baptist tedium. I guess it was a way of imagining a different life.
I would arrange the bottles against this sort of cave wall in a little crawl space off our garage. One time this guy told me that someone was looking to buy a collection of whiskey bottles and that he would pay upwards of $1,500. I was like, “Really???!!!” And he was like, “Naw I’m just yanking yer chain.”
What role does collecting play in the way you make art objects?
It’s where everything starts. Since I have all these different collections all over the place, there are always a bunch of things crowded into my space—things in clumps or rows or clusters or piles. Similar things. And I pick them up, and I tinker with them. It’s usually just a response to what the thing is, or does, or wants. How can I accommodate that thing? Sometimes it’s just like, how can I look at that?