Since 2008, Walead Beshty photographs the art people he works with at every stage of his projects. This first volume features a gallery of black and white portraits spanning from 2008 to 2012.
Walead Beshty started his “Industrial Portraits” series in 2008. Still ongoing, he realizes them wherever he goes, asking all the art people he works with to pose in their working environment and working clothes. This straightforward black and white documentation thus portrays the studio assistants, gallery staff, curators, lab technicians, critics, fellow artists, collectors, art handlers, and even the “machines,” which contribute to an artwork's progress from studio to gallery and beyond. Captioned first as “framer,” “Fedex courier,” or “darkroom assistant” and then identified with their initials and the location and date of the shoot, together his models form a nonhierarchical kaleidoscopic yet very detailed “facebook” of the art world, following in part the tradition of great American anthropological photographic surveys.
According to Jacob Proctor, “In their affect, these photographs acknowledge rather than expose, and any hint of heavy-handed institutional critique is immediately dispelled by the portraits' air of ease and informality. Even the color processing equipment is accounted for in Beshty's quasi-systematic investigation into the myriad conditions that normally remain obscured, even as they collectively define the work's position in the world.”
This publication gathers together the Industrial Portraits created between 2008 and 2012 and is introduced by an essay by Hans Ulrich Obrist. A second volume will be published to span the subsequent years.
Born 1976 in London, Walead Beshty lives and works in Los Angeles.
In-between time has always been central to his work, be it depopulated modernist housing developments that sit precariously between evacuation and demolition ("Excursionist views"), plants, weeds, and vegetation contained within isolated highway medians ("Island Flora"), or abandoned shopping malls ("American Passages"). More recently, this engagement with the in-between has grown into a means of production, making use of such mundance procedures as air travel or sending a package, activities that usually recede into the background of an artist's productive life.
Walead Beshty earned a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in 1999, and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art in 2002. He is an Associate Professor in the Graduate Art Department at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, and has taught at numerous schools including the University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Irvine; the California Institute of the Arts; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and the MFA Program at Bard College. Beshty has exhibited widely in numerous institutions and galleries around the world.