Diana Al-Hadid's Studio Boom | "New York Close Up" | Art21

Uploaded by art21org on 03.08.2012

[sounds of birds chirping]
[Diana] This is what it feels like in my studio all the time. Super tense.
Diana Al-Hadid--Artist
[Diana] "What’s gonna happen?" [laughs]
Sound FX App-Ryan's iPhone
[Ryan] "Is she gonna put steps there?"
"And then..."
[sounds of record scratching]
"Al-Hadid studios!"
[Diana] "Boom!"
[Diana Al-Hadid's Studio Boom]
"What up!?"
[Ryan] "You wanna hear 'sexy'?"
[Diana, laughing] "I do."
[sound of saxophone playing]
[sounds of blowtorch]
Four years ago this whole floor was just one empty space.
[sounds of drilling]
There was no plumbing, there was no heaters, there was no electrical.
"Does it look level to you?"
Lucky for me, I got it grant and I partitioned some of it out.
Some of it's rented to other artists.
And I curved out a space for myself that was way bigger than I ever dreamed.
I was taking on too much and figuring out how to make it happen.
"It's real. It works. Sort of."
When I first moved to New York, my studio was maybe 700 square feet.
[Actual Size--320 square feet]
I made sculptures within inches of the walls. It was really difficult,
Especially for the work that I made. It taught me how to be efficient:
How to save space, how to save money, and especially how to save time,
Because no one helped me, and when you don’t have a lot of resources, you get sharp.
[This is Diana's new sculpture.]
[She has two months to finish it for a show.]
This past year I had pretty fast growth.
It just impossible to do this alone on this scale.
"Do you have a bucket for me? Yes!"
So, now I have assistants that help me make these things.
[Everyone in the studio has a nickname.]
[Drew Dudak--"Drew A Lot When He Was A Kid"]
[Yeji Lee--"Yejisaur"]
[Sarah Faitell--"Fatal"]
That's also why I have a studio manager...
[Jonathan de Simone--"Jonny D On The Ones & Twos"]
...to allocate different tasks for people,
And I can focus on something that requires my attention.
[Jonathan] Working on stuff this large is amazing, it’s so much fun.
[Diana laughs]
When I was first working for her, I was her only assistant.
I spent like six months working really closely with just her and learned a lot about all the different techniques.
[Diana] "It might just be that one rod."
[Jonathan] "You are correct."
[Jonathan] She’a kind of a "go-big-or-go-home" person.
[Diana] "Yes! I love when I'm right."
[Jonathan] Everything is like balls to the wall...
[Diana] "It's so nice, it punctures through."
[Jonathan] ...giant sculpture.
And a lot of the processes here are really specific and a little bit weird and unique.
So, largely what I do is train other people how to do something in the way that Diana wants it done.
[Diana] All this stuff I do people can learn. It’s really easy. I think. Everything I do is easy.
[Nick] "Yeah, but it's also like watching the master at work."
[Diana laughs]
[Nick] I mean to touch fiber glass like you do, to hold it, you can’t do it yourself.
[Diana] "I’m much faster."
[Nick] Yeah, and you make it look more natural.
[Diana] It was kind of a mess in here for many years.
Because of Nick, now I look like a professional.
[Nick] She likes receipts--
[Nicholas Joyce--"Snick"]
Keeping track of everything to the penny. So that’s actually a difficult part.
Tons of details. [laughs] Exciting details.
Jon and I have a competition.
It’s like, I have to get her in the office, and he has to get her on the studio on the same day.
So we split her.
[Office] [Studio]
[Diana] We're going outside.
[Jonathan] This is like a really great working environment.
It’s really nice being here. I'm definitely learning a lot
But on the other hand it is really time consuming.
[Time on the Job]
So I think there’ll come a point at which I need to go do my own thing now.
The hardest part of leaving here will be the fact that we laugh so much at work.
I mean it’s serious too, we're getting shit done, but the fact that the vibe is really relaxed is so nice.
[Diana] Going to use a ladder.
[Diana's been working on this sculpture for over a year.]
[With one month left the studio goes into overdrive.]
[Diana] There’s huge change that happens at the end.
Like, once everything got attached and a lot of the big main decisions are made,
My focus is on these minuscule details. The nuts and the bolts.
[Paul] There are steel supports,
[Paul Pino--"Paulapart"]
[Paul] Like here. There’s a little one inside here, and here.
And these drips kind of obscure where the supports are, to make it look like you're in this sci-fi kind of world.
Like the rules of physics are being bent.
[Diana] Elements come on and come off, and so my job is predicting some of those things.
We're really geeky about ways to problem-solve large complicated sculptures.
[Dennis] The sculpture itself is not built in a rational way
It has more of an aesthetic goal rather than a tectonic one.
So the thing that I'm working on mostly right now are...
[Dennis Harvey--"Dennisio (del Toro)"]
...construction manuals on how to assemble one of these things.
I am always running out to the studio, measuring pieces, and coming back to the computer.
It’s part of each sculpture that you don’t see.
These instruction manuals will stay with the sculpture for the rest of its life. [laughs]
[Paul] Sometimes I'll get home after working here and I've had a lot of dreams about cutting and gluing,
And I'm not sure if I'm dreaming about doing her work or doing my work.
And in the end, it doesn’t make a big difference to me.
[It's now 1:30 a.m.]
[The art movers arrive first thing in the morning.]
[Diana] What we're doing in the studio together is our own problem for a while.
And, at some point, it will be the world's problem...forever. [laughs]
The art world is really temperamental,
So I could be down to myself next year, who knows?
But, I'm careful and I try to be prepared for luck.
Artists are some of the savviest, inventive people.
They have to manage a really illogical pursuit.
The rest of the world is a lot more logical.
Every artist I know is dealing with lot of stress,
and a lot of desire, and a lot of curiosity.
They're kind of sneaky undercover people that look like you and me,
So...be careful. [laughs]
They're everywhere. [laughs]
[Music begins playing: "Eisbär" by Grauzone]
Dance party!