Joe Scanlan is an artist whose work takes multiple forms, from sculpture and design to publications and fictional personae. Indeed, there is a willful subterfuge running through much of his art, as exemplified in works that address the political economy of site-specific labor (Massachusetts Wedding Bed); or co-scripting the life and work of a fictional artist in collaboration with professional actors (Donelle Woolford); or in the design and manufacture of portable architecture that can inhabit the body of a host museum (Thingsthtfall Pavilion). Scanlan is also a widely read, discussed, and translated writer for such venues as Artforum, frieze, and Parkett, his former website thingsthatfall.com, and his online archive joescanlan.org. He has published five books in relation to his work: Object Lessons (Kunstmuseum aan Zee) 2013; Passing Through (K21, Düsseldorf) 2007; DIY (Imschoot Uitgevers, Ghent) 2003; Pay Dirt (IKON Gallery, Birmingham, England) 2002; and Joe Scanlan (Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany) 1996. Scanlan is also the holder of U.S. patent no. 6,488,732, which is a process of converting postconsumer waste into viable potting soil. Scanlan holds a BFA in Sculpture from the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio, and currently lives in New York City.
Scanlan was Director of the Visual Arts Program from 2009–2017 and was responsible for the total overhaul of the Program. During his tenure he revamped the curriculum, helped build a more socially engaged and ambitious creative environment for VIS concentrators, and greatly increased the visibility and credibility of the visual arts on campus. Most important, Scanlan greatly expanded and diversified the full-time faculty to include Fia Backstrom, Martha Friedman, Deana Lawson, Pam Lins, Moon Molson, David Reinfurt, James Welling, and Jeff Whetstone, as well as part-time faculty Alice Chung, Daniel Heyman, Kurt Kauper, Demetrius Oliver, Yaara Sumeruk, Pacho Velez, and Amy Yao. Along with Eve Aschheim and Su Friedrich, their collective professional accomplishments, commitment to teaching, and collegiality have transformed Princeton into one of the best schools anywhere for studying the visual arts.
Scanlan will be on sabbatical in Spring of 2018 to mount several projects in Europe: Outposts and Décor, two exhibitions curated from the permanent collection of the FRAC Pays de la Loire, Nantes; L’oeil Vigilant, a series of lectures performed at the Akademie der Bildende Künste, Vienna; New Tricks, New Schemes, an exhibition at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna; and NBK, a design prototype with Hârto, Paris.