“We’re in the process of doing some more site-specific commissions where we find artists we’re interested in working with, invite them into our space, let them uncover what is most curious to them, and allow them to decide what works they would want to make,” Bennett explains. With this model, they build specific contracts around individual artists and the piece they create, so that once the residency begins, the artist is off and running. (Facebook covers the cost of materials and pays the artist a healthy fee; one noted that they were given a $10,000 stipend for their project.)
Facebook’s curators invite artists creating work that either reflects or challenges the company’s values, Bennett explains. “In the first years, we were mostly looking for artists who shared a love of hacking, making, building—who would reimagine materials more than be experts in oil painting,” he offers.
He gestures to Abaddon’s elevator installation in New York as a strong example of an artist embracing the company’s values. “That’s the kind of spirit we love,” he says. “It’s great to see more meditative, subtle pieces as well, but when an artist can really take over a space, it shows a kind of tenacity and boldness that is a big part of the Facebook culture.”
Though there are several artists who have unleashed social practice works and ephemeral installations in the offices in the past few years, Bennett admits that, five years on, the program has produced a large quantity of murals. “We do have a lot of paint on walls,” he says, “but there is still a really wide range of materials, practices, and visual languages that are expressed through our walls.”