Living In A See-Saw Has Ups And Downs

'Stability And Other Tenuous Positions' i i

Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder will live inside "Stability" for the entire first week of the exhibition. Alex Schweder/Ward Shelley/Lawrimore Project hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Schweder/Ward Shelley/Lawrimore Project
'Stability And Other Tenuous Positions'

Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder will live inside "Stability" for the entire first week of the exhibition.

Alex Schweder/Ward Shelley/Lawrimore Project
Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder i i

Shelley (left) and Schweder say the piece changed the way they look at relationships — including their own. Lawrimore Project hide caption

itoggle caption Lawrimore Project
Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder

Shelley (left) and Schweder say the piece changed the way they look at relationships — including their own.

Lawrimore Project

"Stability and Other Tenuous Positions" may sound like a dissertation on asset-backed debt obligations, but it's actually an art exhibit at The Lawrimore Project, an art gallery in Seattle.

The show's centerpiece, "Stability," features two beds, a kitchen and a bathroom, and it rocks from a single point — like a tiny house balancing on a see-saw. Its creators, Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder, have long made art that blends architecture, performance and visual arts. And to inaugurate their newest piece, the two artists decided to live inside it for a week.

"We've spent 24 hours a day in the structure," Schweder tells Robert Siegel. "And the amenity that we've enjoyed most has been the time that we've had. It's been very unstructured."

Life inside "Stability" is, predictably, quite unstable. Every movement one of them makes has an impact on the entire landscape. One person can visit the bathroom without the other moving, for example. "But then it inclines to about 30 degrees ... and you spill drinks and things like that," says Shelley.

Keeping their living space level requires teamwork, they say. Nighttime is the most difficult to negotiate: "That's the worst," says Schweder. "If someone gets up to do something, your REM falls away rather quickly. We dream pretty tersely."

Both artists say the experience has caused them to reflect on the dynamics of their own relationships.

"For me, it's been an absolute eye-opener in terms of cooperation and negotiation," says Schweder. "[We've] formed a relationship through this building, and its one that's become more complicated by this experience."

"Competition doesn't improve everything," echoes Shelley. "Cooperation makes a lot more sense in most situations."

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