“In a good collaboration, both people let go of their territory to make a third thing that neither one can make alone.”—Meredith Monk
ALEXANDMUSHI. June, 2019.
Photo by Benito Strummer.
Photo by Benito Strummer.
What is ALEXANDMUSHI?
ALEXANDMUSHI is a collaboration between artists: Alex Nichols and Mushi Wooseong James.
Alex and Mushi are ‘artists as anthropologists’. Using art systems to isolate different forms of verbal and nonverbal languages across multiple cultures to examine the unifying core forms of communication and connection.
In 2015 Alex and Mushi met on the streets. To this day it remains a chance meeting. From that unexpected crossing they are innovating a new genre, a new medium of collaborative practice. What does it take to build powerful relationships with people? Humans are always in context to others. And yet how deeply is that process of connecting understood? Alex and Mushi work directly with the dynamic tension core to all relationships. The desire to be seen and the terror of revealing ourselves.
ALEXANDMUSHI have exhibited together in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. They are the recipients of artist residencies in San Francisco, Taiwan, and Mexico. They have guest lectured in the U.S. and Asia, and are the Executive Director and Co-Director of Think Make Tank Artist Collective, an organization dedicated to building a community around collaboration, experimentation, and improvisation.
They have participated and worked with: MOCA Taipei, Bamboo Curtain Studio, Recology SF, Chinese Culture Centre SF, Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture SF, University of San Francisco, Zonamaco Art Fair, MACO Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Oaxaca, Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo Oaxaca, AIASF (American Institute of Architects), and AAA (American Anthropological Association).
They have five ongoing projects in their collaboration: Portable Studio, Chair Conversations, Still Conversations, Two Chairs, and The Dictionary. Each work is a seemingly playful exercise of connection and communication. Behind each of these images is the nakedness required by each individual attempting to know another person.
The goal is to better understand humanity. The rule is transparency. Being as transparent as possible is critical. To begin to know someone we have to know ourselves. The practice of collaboration between two artists is the work of knowing the ‘other’ as a road to knowing the ‘self’.
ALEXANDMUSHI performing Chair Conversations at The Body Electric exhibit in Chinatown, San Francisco on April 17, 2019.
Photo by Benito Strummer.
Photo by Benito Strummer.
How did Alex and Mushi meet?
A crossing of two strangers at two points in time and space is something to pay attention to. Mushi and Alex first met on the streets in Sausalito and randomly in San Francisco a week later. Alex, a San Francisco native, who had been evicted from her art studio was sitting at an Indian Restaurant’s outside table writing. Mushi, who is of Korean descent and grew up in the United Kingdom, was in Sausalito for an artist residency, wandered by and was stopped by a single Japanese sentence written on a page in Alex’s journal. This began a conversation that ignited a dynamic collaboration.
Their differences are drastic at first glance, coming from entirely different gender, culture and generation. Alex and Mushi’s individual drive towards expanding their perspectives is what bridges them. “In a good collaboration, both people let go of their territory to make a third thing that neither one can make alone.”—Meredith Monk.
What is this third thing that we can only make together?
“Nichols and James aren’t merely observing the world and taking pictures. No. They’re manipulating it a bit, directing it, orchestrating it. They’re participating in a kind of make believe that is both ordinary and magical—but it’s a dream state that’s much more Jean-Luc Godard than Walt Disney. Pretensions get jettisoned. The people in focus are unmasked, even if they’re doing their best to “look the part.” —Jonathan Curiel
ALEXANDMUSHI participating in ‘Displacements’ a global conference with a panel discussion on “Attention as Contact: Art, Objects and Agencies.”
They ask “How do we connect? vs. How do we communicate?”
LIVES AND WORKSSan Francisco, California
EDUCATION2013 MUSHI: University College London, London—BSc in Anthropology
2011 ALEX: California College Of Arts, San Francisco, CA—MFA in Writing
1991 ALEX: Pitzer College, Claremont, CA—BA in Performance & Culture
SELECTED EXHIBITIONSWe the City, Group Exhibition co-presented by AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design, the 16th annual Architecture + the City, San Francisco, California. August 29 - September 30, 2019.
Minuscule/Venice Biennale 2019, Venice, Italy. May 10 - July 21, 2019.
The Body Electric, Group Exhibition curated by Candace Huey, Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco, California. April 17 - May 19, 2019.
Push Me Pull You, Modernism Inc., San Francisco, California. November 8 - December 22, 2018.
Exhibition Beijing International Art: ART & MEDIA, Silk Road, G-Art Gallery, Beijing, China. August, 2018.
Annual Juried Exhibition, SF Camerawork, San Francisco, California. July 19 - August 25, 2018.
Art Gives Back, Performance, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco, California. January, 2018.
Le Corps Poetique, Group Exhibition, Space 151, San Francisco, California. December - January, 2018.
Unbuilding Walls, Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei, Taiwan. April, 2017.
Unbuilding Walls, Modernism West, San Francisco, California. March 30 - May 31, 2017.
City in the Sky: A live art exchange between SF & Marseille, La Deviation, Marseille, France. 2017.
Call & Response, Performance, SPACE 151, with Jorge Bachman & Kevin Corcoran. San Francisco, California. December, 2016
KONTAKT, Space 151, San Francisco, California. December, 2016.
Fortnights, The Portable Studio, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, San Francisco, California. 2016.
ART FAIRSZONAMACO México Arte Contemporáneo Art Fair, Mexico City, Mexico. February 6 - 10, 2019.
AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES2020 Artist Residency, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Woodside, California. April 15 - May 13, 2020.
2019 Proceso Abierto Residency, Oaxaca, Mexico. February 11 - March 11, 2019.
2017 Bamboo Curtain Artist Residency Program Taipei, Taiwan. April - May, 2017.
2016 Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, residency ended with exhibition at Fort Nights. January - March, 2016.
GUEST LECTURER/WORKSHOPSEstudio Portátil / Portable Studio, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Oaxaca, Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. March 6, 2019.
Performance: Portable Studio + Chair Conversations, ZONAMACO México Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico. February 6 - 10, 2019.
Kinetech Arts Featured Artist Presentation, Kinetech Arts, SF, California. July, 2018.
Displacements, Biennial Conference, Society of Visual Anthropology & American Anthropological Association, Adobe. April, 2018.
MOCA TAIPEI, “The Portable Studio” Taipei, Taiwan. April, 2017.
Zhuwei Elementary School, “The Portable Studio” Taiwan. April, 2017.
USF Visiting project, San Francisco, CA. Fall 2016 & Spring 2017. University of San Francisco.
Assistant Professor, Stephanie Sears, focuses on gender, race and ethnicity, youth cultures, and power and marginalization. Alex and Mushi brought the Portable Studio into two classes, to explore those questions in an artistic form via Portable Studio Project.
NUMU, “The Portable Studio” Los Gatos, California. September, 2016.
BIBLIOGRAPHYArt of the Times. “The Power of Playing by Two Rules.” Laura Shirk. Summer Issue, 2019.
Elle Ukraine. “20 Things to see in Venice during the Biennale.” Elena Dyachenko. May 23, 2019.
Forbes. “Twelve Essential Offsite Exhibitions Of The 2019 Venice Biennale.” May 19, 2019.
AKArt Advisory. “Spring Highlights: The Body Electric.” April 25, 2019.
7x7. "Spring Arts Preview: Warhol, SFFILM, Queer History, Irving Penn + More." Anna Volpicelli. Apr 1, 2019.
L'ŒIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE. “ALEXANDMUSHI — Push Me Pull You.” January 7, 2019.
Medium. “Think Make Tank share, experience.” Jean-Philippe Defaut. September 11, 2018.
7x7. “When artists host the dinner, food becomes performance art.” Anna Volpicelli. July 24, 2018.
Conduit Magazine. “Gut Feeling, The Intuition Issue.” Randall Heath. A biannual publication.
SF Chronicle. “Evicted artist thinks inside the box with portable studio.” Sam Whiting. December 28, 2017.
Bamboo Curtain Studio. “Outside the box: BCS artist’s Alex Nichols & Mushi.” May 3, 2017.
SF Weekly. “The Sultan of Ambiguity and the Unbuilt Walls.” Jonathan Curiel. April 26, 2017.
MOCA Taipei. “The Portable Studio.” April 22, 2017.
藝術移動工 TAIPEI TV. “The Portable Studio at Zhuwei elementary school.” Mangrove TV Channel. April 25, 2017.
Wall Street International Magazine. “Alex & Mushi: Unbuilding Walls 30 Mar - 31 May 2017 at the Modernism Inc. in San Francisco.” April 5, 2017.
Time Out. “6 art exhibits to see in the bay area this april.” Time Out San Francisco Editors. April 4, 2017.
7X7. “Art Openings in April: A fake Newsroom, de young’s summer of love + more.” Anna Volpicelli. April 3, 2017.
DAZED. “Being a broke young creative in San Francisco.” Sirin Kale. February 23, 2016.
CURATORIALFUTURE CITY: METROPOLIS re-IMAGINED, Exhibition, American Institute of Architects, San Francisco, California. August 23 - October 12, 2018.
THINK MAKE TANKExecutive Director + Co-Director of Think Make Tank Artist Collective, an art tank dedicated to building a community around collaboration, experimentation, improvisation. Founded in 2016.
While I’m Waiting, Exhibition, Code & Canvas, San Francisco, California. April 25 - June 16, 2019.
Origins, Exhibition, SPACE151, San Francisco, California. September - October, 2018.
3 Solo Performances, a sound experience as part of TMT’s Sonic Series. Acoustic solo performances followed by a tea exploring the connection between body and instrument featuring Jason Khan, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, Kevin Corcoran. San Francisco, California. May, 2018.
Refractions, dinner and installation as part of TMT’s Dinner Series. ‘Refractions’ explores the question: Light bends, redirects, transforms when it hits a surface, What happens when we hit a wall? San Francisco, California. April, 2018.
Blindfold, a sound experience as part of TMT’s Sonic Series. Led by Jorge Bachmann, the audience is invited to a sensorial soundscape while resting blindfolded. San Francisco, California. March, 2018.
Thresholds, dinner and installation as part of TMT’s Dinner Series. ‘Thresholds’ explores the concept of a gateway to another place, how we move from one space to another via our large-scale installation. San Francisco, California. January, 2018.
Le Corps Poetique, Exhibition, SPACE 151, San Francisco, California, December 2017 - January 2018.
Interview with Jonathan Curiel, 2017.
藝術移動工 TAIPEI TV, “The Portable Studio at Zhuwei elementary school,” Mangrove TV Channel.