Locating affordable real estate in New York is without doubt an art, as any artist looking for studio space in this mercilessly competitive city will tell you, but few take that notion to heart as seriously as Stephanie Diamond, who puts roofs over the heads of members of the creative class as her artistic practice. As the New York Times reports, the 35-year-old artist has for seven years operated the Listings Project, a free weekly email that catalogs available apartments and workspaces that might be of interest to other artists — listing the activity on her artist's site alongside her photograph portfolios and other "community based" work.
While her newsletter's followers numbered only in the hundreds at first, now around 7,500 subscribers looking for a deal on an artist-friendly space receive her email directory each week, according to the Times. On her site, Diamond says the project came about when, while in graduate school in 2003, she emailed her friends to see about finding an apartment to rent and received an influx of great tips, which she began to forward on to other friends. "After some years of this, my email provider thought I was spamming," Diamond says, "so I registered for a mailing list provider service to help me out. This birthed the Listings Project."
Diamond believes this venture fits seamlessly into her broader "social practice," a genre of work that could be said to have 1970s New York artists like Gordon Matta-Clark as its forebears. She describes it in her artist's statement as "not simply making," but attempting "to employ art as a vehicle to bridge gaps and provide access to places and people that would otherwise never converge or be seen." In the past, this has led her to create a billboard covered in more than 300 photographs she took of men who hit on her in the street, and to stage performances where she "read" the personal photographs of strangers.
"It's about creating an event or an action or a community — the artist creates something out of nothing," Diamond told the Times. "All of a sudden I have a Listings Project, and people are communicating and acting in ways they never were, and because I'm an artist, I've conjured that." According to the Times, that's not the only thing Diamond has conjured. It seems the artist has received emails from appreciative users who found romance while following up on her listings. And now Diamond may reap her own reward for her services — a new button on the site allows satisfied customers (or admiring artistic critics) to donate, a move which has earned the artist somewhere around $5,000 in the past six months.