Joshua Sofaer

Joshua Sofaer is an artist based in the UK, particularly acting as a curator, producer and director of many large scale projects and events which explore the ideas of collaboration, public participation, and that of the artist as a leader and leadership as change. Sofaer is currently an artist fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme and is the first and current Thinker in Residnece at Carriageworks.

What inspires you?
Lots of things, really. I think one of the things that really inspires me is the sense of satisfaction that you get when people are understanding what you’re doing. And I’m working towards feeling that feeling, I suppose. Actually, everything in life inspires me.

What was the first thing that made you realise that, wow, I really want to do this? 
I don’t know if there’s any one origin point but I’ve always been kind of doing stuff like this. My initial training was in theatre and then I went to art college afterwards. I had both a kind of training in performance and training in fine arts. And I think my work’s kind of come together somewhere in between the two.

What has been the most exciting project so far? What project are you most proud of? 
The things that I’m most proud of are the people that have participated. It’s them that makes me proud. But in a selfish way, the most exciting thing was working on this project [SFMOMA Scavengers, 2006], in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco when we finished the scavenger hunt and at midnight we had to start installing the exhibition and the whole technical team was there overnight, for the entire night, making the exhibition. And it just felt like everything was coming together. That was a very exciting moment.

Why was it important to make the prize giving at the end of the scavenger hunt so vulgar? 
I wanted to get some kind of edge in it. It wasn’t just about people enjoying themselves. There’s no critical state if people are just enjoying themselves – there’s no movement. So, by creating a spectacle where you’re giving one person, or one group of people, a cash prize (£2000) and everyone else gets nothing, it is vulgar. So, it’s a kind of a comment.

The idea of a name has been explored significantly throughout history and by artists (such as Sofaer’s Name in Lights, 2007 and Rooted in the Earth, 2009), does your name have a particular meaning?
My name, Joshua, has the same derivation as the name Jesus so it means ‘Saviour.’ And my name Sofaer is a very specific family name, it’s an English transliteration of an Arabic pronunciation of a Hebrew word that means ‘Scribe.’