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Soho House recently announced its collaboration with Tavares Strachan, the conceptual artist who has taken on the role of the New York club’s first “Artist Inspirator.” This concept establishes Soho House as a space that supports and engages with artists. In his first collaboration, Tavares curated a “stairwell gallery,” a project for which artists responded to a specific theme. With the involvement of BMW, the project “Seen/Unseen” was launched with a conversation on art and design between Tavares, BMW’s Jacob Harb, Gregory Volk, Stamatina Gregory, Lauren Zahringer, and Philipp Hubert followed by a cocktail. Whitewall spoke with Strachan about his work and what the title of “Artist Inspirator” means to him.
WHITEWALL: Your previous work deals with themes of exploration and displacement in both the environment and the human body. How does this inform your practice?
TAVARES STRACHAN: Growing up on a tiny island [in the Bahamas], I was often afraid of being trapped, of getting stuck. Exploration became a way for me to begin to address some of my own anxieties about a place that was 24×7 miles.
WW: We noticed the invitation for the “Seen/Unseen” exhibit is a video. How did this idea materialize?
TS: It was simply a way for us to activate something about the exhibition and the book that could not really be translated in any other medium.
WW: You are the Soho House’s first “Artist Inspirator.” What does this role mean to you?
TS: When Rachel Smith approached me, I was a bit hesitant because we were both figuring out what the title might mean for an artist. This role has become very similar to that of a translator. It is exciting as I will be able to use the house as a blank canvas, so to speak. The “Stairwell Gallery” was our first project together, and we will continue to explore interesting ways to incorporate art into the house, whether it be through actual pieces or more galleries, talks and events, etc. Given the Soho House’s connection to the creative community, it is a natural fit and a role that will continue to evolve.
WW: As the “Artist Inspirator” you will also host events for up-and-coming artists. What kind of events can we expect?
TS: Well, it’s not so cool to let the cat out the bag but I will tell you that the art community and the folks at the Soho House can benefit from the overlapping of these worlds. There is a lot of great, young talent here in NYC, and it will be exciting to see how we can work together.
WW: You curated a “Stairwell Gallery” for the Soho House. How did you go about selecting the work for this?
TS: I had rendered the statement “We Belong Here” as a text of neon and I asked these artists to respond to this statement in their own way. The results were… well I will let people decide for themselves.
WW: Can you tell us more about your sculpture We Belong Here?
TS: In many ways we often struggle with how we fit into the world. So I wanted to make a work where as soon as you saw it, you read it and the words became yours.