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Beauty & PoliticsJessica Stockholder

February 11, 2009

From her New Haven studio, Jessica Stockholder discusses the relationship between taste, beauty, and pleasure in art— as well as the omniscient manner in which politics permeate each of these conventions. “I think pleasure is very political. Pleasure is part of what controls people,” says Stockholder.

“Advertising is directed at our pleasure, and homophobia is about where people find pleasure. And taste is tied to class, and hierarchy, and social structure, and has something to do with beauty too. Those words get mixed up—what’s tasteful and what’s beautiful.”

More information and credits


Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Mead Hunt & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Merce Williams. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Jessica Stockholder. Special Thanks: Jay Gorney and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Jessica Stockholder

Jessica Stockholder is a pioneer of multimedia genre-bending installations that have become a prominent language in contemporary art. Her site-specific interventions and autonomous floor and wall pieces have been described as “paintings in space.” Stockholder’s complex installations incorporate the architecture in which they have been conceived, blanketing the floor, scaling walls and ceiling, and even spilling out of windows, through doors, and into the surrounding landscape. Her work is energetic, cacophonous, and idiosyncratic, but close observation reveals formal decisions about color and composition, and a tempering of chaos with control.

“I’m involved in this process of making things because it matters.”

Jessica Stockholder

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Pleasure, Politics, and Beauty

In this interview, Jessica Stockholder talks about her ideas of beauty and abstraction in relation to formalist aesthetics.

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Jessica Stockholder

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Jessica Stockholder