Every Ocean Hughes 96S to Exhibit Interdisciplinary Work in Solo Show at Whitney Museum
Known as Emily Roysdon at Hampshire, Every Ocean Hughes 96S will present a four-part show, Alive Side, that comprises performances, video, and photography connected by themes of “transitions, thresholds, kinship, legacy, and queer life.” The exhibition runs January 14 through April 2, 2023.
The Whitney Museum of American Art commissioned a piece from Hughes to include in the exhibit—a performance that will be the third part of a series inspired by their training as a death doula (a professional who provides patients and their families with emotional and/or spiritual support before, during, and after the dying process). The first segment, Help the Dead (2019), is an hourlong performance with music and song set up like a workshop, and the second, One Big Bag (2021), is a 40-minute video featuring a mobile corpse kit, a bag of objects that doulas use to care for the dead.
The forthcoming third presentation will tell the story of a mythic community with the ability to make round-trips to the underworld. In addition to the performances and video, Hughes’s show will feature photographs of piers on the west side of Manhattan that serve as unmarked memorials to the underground and marginalized communities that once occupied the waterfront.
The artist started their college career with the intention of studying international politics. However, by the time they were presenting their Div III, Hughes had developed a passion for the arts. Their capstone project was a combination of photography, performance, and installation art. They continue to work with a wide variety of media, now incorporating sculpture, printmaking, video, text, and music, and are committed to collective work.
“Hampshire was a crucial first step in choosing interdisciplinary research environments, experimental spaces, and collaborators,” they say.
In addition to having an impressively lengthy CV of solo and group art exhibitions worldwide, Hughes has their work in public collections, such as those of Le Centre national des arts plastiques, in Paris; New York’s Museum of Modern Art; and the Moderna Museet, in Stockholm.
Hughes was the editor and cofounder of LTTR, a queer feminist journal and artist collective, collaborated musically with a number of bands, and designed costumes for several choreographers and the punk band Le Tigre. “I was educated in creative and critical thinking at Hampshire, and there is no better education,” Hughes says. “I’ve gone on to teach at European universities, been a research fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, and was an art professor here in the United States. I rely on my Hampshire experience as the foundation for how to structure learning and growth environments.”
Hughes has taught since 2013 and is currently the Sachs Visiting Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. They attended grad school at the University of California Los Angeles where they received an MFA in interdisciplinary studio arts.
Hughes says, “Hampshire prepared me to be accountable and articulate in my decision making, taught me I could change my mind, taught me how to structure a research project, and to practice conceptual, abstract and political thinking.”
Image at top: Beyond the will to measure, 2016 © Every Ocean Hughes
Portrait above by Doyun Kim