Guestroom is a collaborative project by artists Maria Benjamin (born Broxburn, 1972, lives in London) and Ruth Höflich (born Munich, 1976, lives in London), working out of their shared studio in Dalston, East London. It originated in 2002 as an annual publication, which has contained elements such as CDs, DVDs, posters and stickers, and featured contributions from artists and writers such as Pablo Bronstein, Claire Hooper, Mark Aerial Waller, Anna Colin and Olivia Plender. At the same time Guestroom has expanded to include various other activities, such as an ongoing series of events, entitled Passerby, in which artists are invited to present a project in three parts: one in the windows of the Guestroom studio; one on a small disused billboard nearby; and one through a live event or presentation.
The participation of other artists or cultural practitioners in Guestroom's projects is always framed by an emphasis on the creation of communities, whether these are grouped around one-off events or more long-term projects that develop wider relationships. Benjamin and Höflich are especially interested in self-organisation within groups, and bring other practitioners together so as to document the formation of ideas within such activities as collective reading, live performance and shared correspondence.
Part of Guestroom's identity has been formed through its participation in projects curated by other organisations and institutions, and they have responded to these invitations by developing new means to reflect on the nature of collaboration. A recent residency at Grizedale Arts, in the Lake District, has formed the basis for two ongoing projects entitled Reading Room and The Librarians. These projects are at the centre of Guestroom's event at the ICA, where the group is using the Nash and Brandon Rooms as a site for production, presentation and performance.
The Librarians is a series of eight video portraits of people working in the arts, all people with highly personal libraries or collections. The project looks at how individual selection processes - and by extension the design and organisation of personal environments - reflect and relate to a person's wider practice. Reading Room extends the analysis of 'influence' through a series of performances by artists reading from personally selected texts. These events take place within a purpose-built environment, one that is adaptable to the particular performer's needs. For Nought to Sixty this setting will become a kind of a TV production studio, so that performances can be simultaneously broadcast on agrifashionista.tv - a web-based arts TV station curated by Grizedale Arts for A Foundation.