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Portrait of Ivan, in collaboration with Ivan Santos Diaz 

Portland State University, Portland, OR


During the winter term of 2021 I taught a virtual art seminar course at Portland State University called Relational Art and Civic Practice. I taught from New York City and all of my students were located in Portland. I introduced them to the Felix Gonzales Torres piece Untitled, from 1991, which consisted of billboard installations of an image of an empty bed. The bed in the photograph was the one Torres shared with his partner, Ross, and the work was created within the context of the aids epidemic in the United States. 

At the same time, in a graduate-level course I was taking with Harrell Fletcher, we had been talking about "re-creation" (replicating a preexisting project or event as an art project), and I had an idea to involve my students in an experimentation with this concept. So, I gave them an ongoing assignment, to send me pictures of their beds every Tuesday after they woke up. 

In addition to exploring concepts of originality, appropriation, and site-specificity, I wanted the students to think about how they could make conceptually strong work that was accessible and easily available to them, in spite of the limitations imposed on them. 

I made prints of the images they submitted to me, and displayed the series titled Untitled (Beds Without Students in Them) in an exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Portland Oregon. One student named Ivan's work stood out to me, and we collaborated further, installing a print of his work on Portland State University's campus. 

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