The Art World Works From Home: Artist Gabriel Kuri Is Brushing Up on His Drumming Skills and Reading About How to Raise Resilient Teens

The art world may be working remotely, but it certainly does not stop. We're checking in with art-world professionals to see how they work from home.

Artist Gabriel Kuri.

The art world may be on lockdown, but it certainly does not stop. During this unprecedented time, we’re checking in with art-world professionals, collectors, and artists to get a glimpse into how they are working from home.

Since the celebrated Brussels-based artist Gabriel Kuri’s work often hinges on creating new systems from the ephemera of daily life, there’s a way in which he’s already spent decades doing what many people have only been forced to do since the world ground to a halt a few months back. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean the transition to an isolated lifestyle was simple. Although he’s enjoyed the luxury of more family time and his studio remains easily accessible, Kuri’s most recent solo exhibition was cut short, and in his eyes, the online art world is still missing something essential—a problem that is finally starting to fade now that Europe and other parts of the globe are reopening.

Read on to hear about the ways music, a Fluxus great, and a previously under-appreciated vegetable have kept him steady in turbulent times.

Where is your new “office”?

I am privileged to have my studio around the block from where we live, so I can still take some escapades over there.

A view inside Gabriel Kuri's studio. Courtesy of the artist.

A view inside Gabriel Kuri’s studio. Courtesy of the artist.

What are you working on right now (and were any projects of yours interrupted by the lockdown)?

My exhibition “spending static to save gas” at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin was unfortunately closed halfway into its run. I am trying to focus on manual work, hoping that this will lead me somewhere my mind seems not to find the stamina for.

How has your work changed now that you are doing it from home?

I am not able to see any change yet, only slowing down. My work is the only way I can make sense of life in all its aspects and dimensions, and everything is so affected and upside down that it feels ambitious to try and make much sense right now.

What are you reading, both online and off?

We Need to Talk: A Straight-Talking Guide to Raising Resilient Teenagers by Ian Williamson.

Have you visited any good virtual exhibitions recently?

I don´t mean to underestimate the efforts of those (including the galleries that represent me) who are posting online exhibitions, but for me the ideas virtual and exhibition cannot be so quickly reconciled. I would rather think of the screen as having a distinct use and never as a surrogate for actual presence. I would rather not forget my longing to be present while I turn to the screen for other kinds of stimuli. Ultimately art (making it and witnessing it) can and should be seen as a form of resistance to life online.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

I picked up on some snare drum rudiments on my practice pad after many years of not doing it.

What is the first place you want to travel once this is over?

Mexico City to see my parents.

If you are feeling stuck while self-isolating, what’s your best method for getting un-stuck?

I am very close to our 14-year-old twins and being near them has been the best way to stay sane. We also have a great library with hundreds of art books, that helps too.

What was the last TV show, movie, or YouTube video you watched?

Reggae Britannia, a documentary about the impact of Jamaican music in Britain of the 1970s and ’80s.

If you could have one famous work of art with you, what would it be?

If I am entitled to many small works of the same kind and size, I would have one of the walls at home covered with pencil drawings by Joseph Beuys.

Favorite recipe to cook at home? 

I have been appreciating leeks more and more these days. They have provided a fleshy and versatile alternative to onions and garlic.

1. Slice leeks into rings, sauté with olive oil (add sea salt to taste) and any of the following:

  • parsley
  • chopped string beans
  • small squares of white cabbage

2. Then add brown rice, quinoa, chick peas, lentils or any other grain, warm or even tepid.

This simple pairing will provide a reliably delicious and very compatible taste to any number of meals.

What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing has been lifted? 

Embracing people I miss.


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