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As we bask in the warmth of a sunny day, fair warning to those strolling through the Foggy Bottom campus: Watch your shadow. Buying people’s shadows is the current business/research of visiting artist Patrick Killoran, whose work represents commentary on consumerism. The New York-based artist is on campus this semester as the first GW Artist in Residence, exploring consumer behavior and consumer culture through his work.
“Although it might not make a good business, as a gesture buying shadows highlights many issues associated with consumerism. It always makes for engaging conversation,” said Killoran.
Killoran’s premise is that one of the key functions of market economies is to imbue products with qualities they do not possess. His portfolio works within this premise, triggering desires while simultaneously exposing their futility. He has exhibited at major institutions throughout the world such as MoMA PS1 in New York; Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK; and the Mori Museum in Tokyo, Japan. In 2012, he was a Visiting Critic at the Yale University School of Art.
During his residency from January to June at GW, Killoran will explore the wide variety of impulses induced by capitalism, hopefully integrating a workshop that serves as a laboratory for collaboration and learning. He plans to build upon his shadow buying experiment with a project that highlights how consumerism manipulates public debate and dominates self-expression.
“Usually artists develop their ideas in isolation with the hope to exhibit their work,” said Killoran. “The GW Artists in Residence program offers a chance for me to develop ideas in a community of the intellectually curious.”
Killoran has a studio in the Smith Hall of Art and will conduct individual critiques throughout the semester with MFA and undergraduate students. He is excited about the prospect of igniting conversation at GW, involving not just fine art students, but other disciplines as he explores the aspects of his shadow experiment.
“I could have a great conversation with a business major about buying shadows, a law professor about the contract of sale, or a literature major about the literary history of buying shadows in folklore,” explained Killoran. “The opportunity to collaborate and develop new ideas is key. Most of my artworks entail some level of participation from the audience; the school’s community offers a unique opportunity to connect with an audience that is already engaged in a public conversation.”