Josh Lubin-Levy’s essay looks at the work of the downtown artist Jack Smith through the lens of Smith’s preoccupation with “landlordism” and rent. In the periods immediately before and after his 1971 eviction from the Soho loft he dubbed The Plaster Foundation, Smith reworked Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a never-completed performance and film project in which the prince is born into a family of landlords. Smith used rent and the notion of “plaster”—artifice, surface, perhaps hypocrisy—as a way to talk about the commodification of art and artists, and as a stand-in for a critique of market capitalism as a whole.

Queens Museum

Cover image edited on 12/02/20