project image
Steve Nice

first performed on May 17, 2013
Wellcome Collection, London, UK
performed three times in 2013


Susannah Hewlett, Steve Nice

London, UK


“Schmug” was a personal dream made manifest. The dream is one in which all mugs, glasses and champagne flutes fit my lush, gigantic nose like a lock and perfect key. Instead of living in a world in which the more-generously schnozzed must tip back and strain their neck to simply enjoy a glass of bubbly or a hot cup of morning coffee, with a customised Schmug the dream of pain-free drinking can become a reality. Inspired by infomercials and customised product design, the installation performance of “Schmug” attempted to start intimate and humorous conversations about the stories our bodies tell.

In the gallery space—as part of an evening entitled The Nose—a simple commercial explained the concept: audience members would be interviewed about their nose for “market research,” have it photographed and measured, and then the Schmug team (Sue, Steve and Brian) would create a mock-up photograph of what their Schmug would look like. Market research questions included: “Have you ever injured yourself or another person as a direct result of using a non-customised drinking vessel?” “Does your nose have a direct correlate somewhere inside your biological family? If yes, to whom does it correlate and what are your feelings towards them because of it?” “Have you ever dreamt of being in a car accident so that your new nose could more easily fit into a non-customised drinking vessel?”

Prior to the performance, the Schmug team had already designed The Amy (Amy Winehouse), The Groucho (Groucho Marx), The Babs (Barbra Streisand), The Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and The Stephen (Fry) and, throughout the evening, more photographs and interview questionnaires were added, creating an extravagant display.

“Schmug” attempted a playful but provocative conversation about racial and ethnic identity through the products we use and their unmarked oppressions. After three installations, over 250 Schmugs have been rendered.