The Architectural Artist: Ben Schumacher

27-year-old artist Ben Schumacher opened this year with “Register of Documents, 1974—,” his breakout show at New York’s James Fuentes gallery. The artist displayed perforated vinyl images taken from the anti-Soviet Czech  magazine Vokno, printed on plate glass and steel sculptures, resembling excised segments of a Mies van der Rohe façade. “Plate glass was developed for greenhouses originally. People would collect samples of exotic plants from all over the world to place in these big glass boxes,” said Schumacher. “It’s strange that when it reached its technological height, plate glass began to be used for office towers.” 

That the Canadian-born artist comes from Kitchener—a rural town recently made famous by the boom and bust of Blackberry creator Research in Motion, which led a short-lived tech industry boom in the area—should point to his fascination with technological dislocation. Schumacher first experienced art through magazines and online photographs. The success of artist-run galleries operating outside of New York and Los Angeles inspired his collaborations with Kitchener artists, where he has organized shows in office spaces between leases. Though impermanent and remotely installed, the shows have garnered attention online. “They manage to successfully channel their message almost solely through pictures,” he says. Over the past years, he’s created painted cement works on canvas including King of the Fruits (2011) and Bevel A (2011), and a mesh panel hung cheekily atop a taut durian fruit.

In February, Schumacher will open a show at New York’s Bortolami Gallery, where he will collaborate with the architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro. It’s a world familiar to the artist, who originally trained as an architect himself. He has proposed an exchange of space to be carried out between his gallery and the firm’s headquarters. “I’m interested in placing some of the artwork in their offices and having architects propose a project inside of the gallery,” explained Schumacher. “My project won’t be entirely accessible to the public because they only accept clients into their offices. It will only be available through images.” 

To see more of our 13 Faces of 2013, click here.