Andrea Zittel: How to Live?



Since the early 1990s, Andrea Zittel has used the arena of her day-to-day life to develop and test prototypes for living structures and situations. Using herself as a guinea pig, she constructs an understanding of the world at large using these isolated experiences. The experiments have at times been extreme—wearing a uniform for months on end, exploring limitations of living space, and living without measured time—yet one of the most important goals of this work is to illuminate how we attribute significance to chosen structures or ways of life and how arbitrary such a choice can be. Rather than deny the personal significance of these decisions, Zittel uses her work to try to comprehend broad values such as “freedom,” “security,” “authorship,” and “expertise.” Zittel is interested in how qualities, which we tend to feel are concrete and rational, are often subjective, arbitrary or even outright invented.



Andrea Zittel, A-Z Wagon Stations: Second Generation, 2012–present powder coated steel, aluminum, plexiglass, wood, canvas, futon, pillow, hand brush, straw hat
82 x 231 x 57 inches each
Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Andrea Zittel, Photo by Lance Brewer

Renowned artist Andrea Zittel currently lives in Joshua Tree, Calif. After receiving her BFA from San Diego State University, and MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, she established her practice in New York. There she founded A-Z East, a small row house in Brooklyn turned into a showroom and testing grounds for her prototypes for living. In 1998 she moved back to the west coast, eventually settling in the High Desert region next to Joshua Tree National Park where she founded A-Z West in 2000. A-Z West is the current site of her studio practice, as well as other ongoing living experiments including the Wagon Station Encampment and the Institute of Investigative Living. In 2002, Zittel cofounded High Desert Test Sits, a series of experimental art sites in the High Desert that supports works by both emerging and established artists.

Zittel’s work has been included in major group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and the Whitney Biennial. She has had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria in New York, and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel, among others. Her survey exhibition “Critical Space”traveled to the New Museum in New York, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Locally, you can see a permanent installation of Zittel’s Planar Pavilions at the U.S. General Services Administration’s Denver Federal Center at 6th Ave and Kipling.

Learn more about Zittel at 

Zittel is the second presenter in the VASD Program’s yearlong Collapsing Time lecture series.


The artist will also be participating in the following events with RMCAD students, faculty, and staff:


Wednesday, October 4, 2017
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
RMCAD faculty, staff, and students are invited to join the VASD Program and Andrea Zittel for a casual Q+A session over lunch. This intimate gathering provides an opportunity to further discuss ideas presented in the previous night’s lecture and a place for students to further engage with our special guest.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017
1:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Rude 008
RMCAD students are invited to join Andrea Zittel in an exploratory and critical conversation about the intersection of art and living.

In this very special direct engagement with renowned artist Andrea Zittel, students will read the 1979 essay titled Performing Life by Allan Kaprow, and embark in an exploratory and critical conversation about the intersection of art and living.
This conversation will allow us to learn about ourselves and perhaps even reimagine new possible models for both our lives and for how to be artists. We will consider a number of questions including; how important is “legacy”? Must one’s life work remain intact into the future in order to be of value? Does a successful practice exist as a form of commentary, the embodiment of critique or social change, or is “self-expression” in itself a valid practice? Is it important that a life practice be shared with an audience at all? What are the criteria of a “successful” life practice”—or perhaps even more importantly, what are the criteria of a successful life?

As students, you are currently training in a system that grooms young artists for a specific kind of art-world career. But it’s likely that many of you won’t fit that mold. Our discussion, if successful, will transcend categories and hierarchies and will focus on ways to create a meaningful and relevant existence that generates unique roles for us as both humans and as artists.

RMCAD students from all academic departments are welcome to participate.

To reserve a spot for this special opportunity students are required to submit the following to THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO Thursday, September 28th, 2017:

1. Your name,
2. academic department,
3. a short paragraph stating your interest in participating in this event

The VASD Program Committee will review submissions and selected students will be notified by Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Those that submit by the extended deadline will be notified of participation by Friday, September 29th.

Registration deadline for Life Practice has been EXTENDED TO Thursday, September 28th, 2017.


We ask each of our visitors to provide a list of media and materials that are connected to the visitor’s work, interests, and inspirations.


The suggested reading list includes various reading and media recommendations provided by the visitor. This list of materials can include projects authored by the artist or others, and provides further insight into the visitor’s sources of inspiration and additional context surrounding the artist/scholar/designer’s work and practice. This list is shared with RMCAD students and faculty and is archived on the website for academic integration and research opportunities. Some physical materials from each list are archived in the RMCAD campus library and the VASD Program archive.

  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (book)
  • Paradise Now by Chris Jennings (book)
  • Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life by Allan Kaprow (book)
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (book)
  • The Invention of Art: A Cultural History by Larry Shiner (book)