Thumbtacks and Sword Swallowing in Miles Greenberg’s Studio

In her new column, Studio Sense, contributor Maria Vogel asks an artist to take us on a tour inside their studio using the five senses.

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Portrait of Miles Greenberg. Photography by Eva Roefs.

For an artist whose medium is performance, the act of going to a studio space takes on a different form than picking up a brush and palette. Miles Greenberg’s Chinatown studio is a place he finds respite from the crowd inducing rooms his performances pack. Most recently, that room was a Venice Palazzo, where Greenberg’s Sebastian, co-curated by Klaus Biesenbach, brought Biennale-goers to a standstill as the artist spent seven and a half hours standing on a platform, covered in oil and pierced with arrows. Awe, wonder, an idiosyncratic interpretation on art history, and a subtle shock factor form the basis of Greenberg’s practice.

Read on as Greenberg walks us through the experience of being in his studio through the five senses (plus a bonus prompt) and learn what element might soon play a role in a future performance.

Miles’ studio. Courtesy the artist.

What are you looking at?

Thumbtacks on the floor, tangled wires, whiteboard marker ghosts on my mirror. Old ideas, new ideas, thoughts that are two or ten words long, things I haven’t come up with yet, a tiny sliver of broken glass catching the piercing sunbeam that blasts through my window every day at five o’clock.

What are you touching?

Mohair on leather scattered with A4 paper. I’m running my finger along the dull edge of a steel sword from one of my shows, still covered in paint, sand and castor oil. It’s sticky and granular and smells like rancid seeds and the earth.

Miles’ studio. Courtesy of the artist.

What are you listening to?

Chino Amobi’s Airport Music for Black Folk over the revving of motorbikes from the biker gang who hangs around my building in Chinatown.

What are you tasting?

100% dark chocolate.

What are you smelling?

Bhutanese incense, dust, sunbaked drywall, overripe fruit, oversteeped tea, and markers. The sun this time of year makes everything smell different, more saturated. When I lay down on my sofa, I’m greeted by the scent of my own hair product (curl cream, rosemary oil, mousse, edge control) baked into the spot where I take naps; the spot I used to sleep on every night when I lived here.

Miles’ studio. Courtesy of the artist.

What are you thinking about?

Sword swallowing, and whether or not I can learn how to do it in time for my next show.

Words by Maria Vogel