Artist Behind Airbnb Listing for Donald Judd’s Loft Tackles the Ethics of Artists’ Foundations

On Thursday we were tempted to put down a deposit on an Airbnb listing that purported to let travelers sleep in Donald Judd‘s former home and studio in Soho at 101 Spring Street for a nightly rate of $2,000. The listing was taken by many to be a piece of ephemeral internet satire, and has since been removed from the online short-term rentals site, but on Friday afternoon the artist behind the post got in touch with ARTINFO to explain his motives, describing this bit of studio-appropriating art as “landing somewhere between [Cory] Arcangel and [William] Powhida.”

The artist in question, Tyler Taylor, is based in suburban Detroit, and sought to highlight the ethical obligations of artists’ foundations to respect the artists’ wishes. He explained, via email:

When I read about the restoration and the tours (which feel a bit like a strange breach of posthumous privacy), I got to thinking about the actions of these dead artists’ foundations. Like, I’m from Detroit, or, well, actually, I’m from Garden City, a suburb that shares a border with Westland, where Mike Kelley was from. Anyway, the Museum of Contemporary Art here just opened up Mobile Homestead. Despite my assumptions that Kelley was a millionaire, apparently his foundation had trouble realizing the totality of Mobile Homestead by themselves after he died, so the Rauschenburg foundation chipped in $150,000. In a way, it’s a posthumous collaboration initiated by neither party. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a great project, and I’m really very happy with the result, but it just strikes me as strange. So I got to thinking about how we don’t really consider the ethics of these foundations, the way they realize projects or conduct activities in the dead artist’s name, acting as these kind of zombie arms. Would Judd want people touring his personal space? I don’t know. But he certainly wouldn’t have wanted it rented out for $2,000 a night to rich idiots, people who think their personal wealth might give them permission to sleep in a dead man’s bed. I’m certainly not vindictive, but I expect to take enormous pleasure in denying the first dick to seriously inquire. Maybe I should add that to the posting – serious inquiries only.

I don’t want people to think I’m being overly serious about it, though.There is definitely humor in it. If you look at the amenities, there are something like 25 options: “cable, internet, indoor fireplace, etc.” The only one I checked off was “smoking allowed,” because, as we all know from having it hammered into us over the last hundred years: smoking means contemplation, it means wisdom. Kudos for catching that, btw.

Anyway, I front a collaborative in Detroit called Prank House. Next year we’ll be showing a free public tanning booth in Detroit in conjunction with this biennial of light-based work. It’ll be called FREE TAN. We’re also burying a Boeing in the Arizona desert.

Before Taylor and the Prank House collective sink an airplane into the desert, though, he’ll be participating in an upcoming exhibition at the new alternative art space What Pipeline in Detroit. However, he told us he doesn’t plan on including the Judd loft listing in the show. “I don’t think the Airbnb thing really needs articulation outside of the web,” Taylor said.

— Benjamin Sutton