In the Studio of Sanya Kantarovsky
New York-based artist Sanya Kantarovsky gives us a view of his industrial studio and shows us some things which inspire him. Finding the right balance between isolation and collaboration, and between Taylor Swift and Bulgarian choir music isn’t always easy. But Kantarovsky makes it work. Here's how:
How often do you go to your studio and what hours do you usually keep?
I go to my studio almost every day. I’m not always making stuff per se, and I often get sucked into reading, looking or talking for hours. When I have something coming up I often lose track of time and stay at the studio until the middle of the night, or sometimes the morning. That’s a part of working I enjoy very much – forgetting about time.
What does your normal working day look like?
A few months ago my friend and I rented an industrial space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. We divided it into 8 studios, and rented them out by word of mouth, mostly to close friends and acquaintances. It feels good to be around kindred spirits, making tea or food out in the hallway, catching up, talking about life and work. It’s a feeling I missed in my former studio building, where most of the other tenants were strangers.
Do you work with assistants?
I mostly work alone. I haven’t really figured out how to delegate much to other people, although someone helps me prepare surfaces from time to time, as that part usually takes a while. I did just hire a friend of a friend to help me build a model of the gallery where I’m having my next show.
How often do you have people over to visit your studio?
Pretty often. With other artist friends around it’s really easy to pull someone into the studio and ask for their two cents. Other people come by intermittently. I do try to guard the studio space somewhat.. It feels very private most of the time, and when visits become too frequent it shifts towards more of a public exhibition space, and there’s a sense of vulnerability that comes with that.
What are you working on right now?
I’m designing a theater set for my partner’s mother, Wendy Osserman who is a choreographer. She will be staging the 40th anniversary season of her dance company in a few weeks at Theater for the New City, and I’m working on an arrangement of backdrops with color and light. It’s uncharted territory for me so I’m really learning as I go along. I’m also working on an upcoming book and that’s entailed quite a bit of work–editing, writing, dealing with color etc. Other than that I’m preparing for a few group shows this summer, and for my next solo show at Stuart Shave Modern Art gallery in London this fall.
Can you tell us something about your next project?
The thing I’m the most excited about right now is the book. I’m working on it with my friend Stuart Bailey, a brilliant designer and thinker. We’ve done small things together over the years and I’ve been wanting to collaborate with him in a more substantial way for a long time. A number of other great minds are also generously contributing material to the project– Angie Kiefer, Eli Diner, and Allison Katz, with whom I’ve been developing a written dialogue over the past year. Books and literature have played an important role in what I do, and so this book is as much an artwork as it is a monograph.
What are you reading/listening to in your studio at the moment?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Japanese stuff from the 80’s like Mariah and Chiemi Manabe. Also some guilty pleasures like the newish Taylor Swift album. When I need to concentrate I’ll turn to Bulgarian Choir music – makes the air feel ridiculously emotional.
As far as reading, apart from journalism, it’s been non-fiction as of late, mostly essays. I recently read Ariana Reines’ piece on Francesca Woodman, which was deeply moving and difficult in the best of ways... Janet Malcolm’s essay 41 False Starts about David Salle is pretty incredible, and now I’m in the middle of her profile on Ingrid Sichy – A Girl of the Zeitgeist.
Why have you chosen to photograph these particular objects and what significance do they hold for you?
My windows look out onto the busy freeway, so there’s this perpetual New York speed glued right onto my wall. It really feels like something out of Jacques Tati’s Trafic, and I find it inspiring – the aloneness of the studio measured against the frenetic zone outside. Then there’s my couch with a blanket I made recently for Studio Voltaire. It’s satisfying to have a functional artwork around. The last image is of my drawing desk. There’s a small Paul Tech etching hanging above it that I got from a benefit last year. It’s one of my favorite things– a constant reminder of what I’m most interested in: seeing and noticing.
Sanya Kantarovsky was born 1982 in Moscow and currently lives and works in New York. Kantarovsky is represented by Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles, Stuart Shave Modern Art, London and Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin.