Sharon Hayes
In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You

Studio Voltaire


In April 2016, Studio Voltaire presented a major new commission by Sharon Hayes, the artist’s first exhibition in a UK public gallery.

Sharon Hayes (b.1970 Baltimore, US) uses photography, film, video, sound and performance to examine the intersections between the personal and the political. Drawing particular attention to the language of twentieth-century protest groups, Hayes invites viewers and participants to re-experience moments of political and cultural oppression by staging protests, delivering speeches, and re-performing demonstrations.


For her commission at Studio Voltaire, her first in a UK institution, Hayes looked specifically at queer and feminist archives in the US and UK which document gay rights, and women’s liberation. Working with both the content and display of archives, Hayes re-staged some of the most affective forms of presentation she encountered.

Hayes built a new large-scale installation that completely bisected the gallery. The structure referenced hoarding and notice boards used as sites of communication for protest and action groups, upon which she presented a new 6-channel film.

Hayes also created a large-scale wall drawing, based on content from newsletters and DIY magazines using reproduced and reconstructed posters, maps, calendars, prints and photographs. The artist was interested in the moments in which communities are built and ideas are shared through the action of reading.

Through these methods of enactment the artist engaged in what she called “speech acts”, highlighting the friction between common activities and personal actions to examine how collective consciousness is built. The transformative power of language is discernable throughout the artist’s multi-disciplinary practice.

Hayes is interested in the limits of gender as well as the historic and contemporary ways in which feminist and queer political collectives continually expand and constrain gender expression. These new works served to interrogate the genealogy of our current moment in feminism and queer politics, paying particular attention to the persistent violence that attends women who claim attention in a public space.

The title of this new commission was derived from two sides of an Anita Bryant record (Side A: In My Little Corner of the World; Side B: Anyone Would Love You). Bryant, a US entertainer and Orange Juice spokesperson, became the leader of an anti-gay campaign in 1977 and was subsequently vilified by gay rights groups for doing so.

This exhibition formed part of How to work together and was co-commissioned with The Common Guild in Glasgow. This commission was supported by Charlotte Ford, Haro & Bilge Cumbusyan and Valeria & Gregorio Napoleone.


About the artist

Sharon Hayes (b. 1970 Baltimore, US) lives and works in Philadelphia. Recent solo exhibitions include: Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (2015); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2014); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); Museo Naconial Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2012); The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2011); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2011). Recent group exhibitions include: Kunsthaus Hamburg (2015); MoMA P.S. 1, New York (2014); Hayward Gallery, London (2014); Wellcome Collection (2014); 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea (2014) and 55th Venice Bienniale, Venice (2013). The artist is represented by Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin. This commission was supported by Charlotte Ford and The Sharon Hayes Supporters Circle.

About Studio Voltaire

For over twenty years, Studio Voltaire has championed emerging and underrepresented artists, offering an alternative and agenda-setting view of contemporary art. Many of Studio Voltaire’s exhibitions are an artists’ first solo presentation in London, and invest in the production of new work that might not always be possible in commercial galleries or institutions, giving artists the chance to expand their practice, often working in residency in the gallery. Exhibiting artists have included Phyllida Barlow, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Nicole Eisenman, Jo Spence, Judith Bernstein, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Elizabeth Price, Henrik Olesen, Charlotte Prodger, Sanya Kantarovsky, Richard Slee and Cathy Wilkes. Studio Voltaire’s programme is intergenerational, supporting both emerging artists and those who have been underrepresented in their career but deserve championing. This unique way of working allows Studio Voltaire to develop long-term relationships with artists, often working together on multiple occasions.