Joshua Schwebel's artistic practice responds to sites and situations, proposing reflections, reactions, or formal interventions tailored to the contexts in which he is working. Because he is interested in the art exhibition as a productive context rather than an empty container for the display of objects, Schwebel's working process involves intense research on site, which culminates not only in a public presentation, but also becomes part of an archive of the correspondence and institutional interactions involved in the making of what ultimately is exhibited. Schwebel's work reveals the contours of already-ongoing institutional performances – performances involved in the creation of the frame that distinguishes art from non-art. Through this process his work makes the art institution visible as a performing entity with political aims and involvement.

In examining the framing of art as a construct that both confers and protects value, his work reflects what we expect art to be and how these expectations veil systemic problems plaguing contemporary art including the intensely hierarchized and stratified work culture in art institutions; the instrumentalization of artists and art institutions in the gentrification of neighbourhoods; and the effects of austerity politics on cultural funding, which have effectively entrenched institutional dependence on donors and established the already-wealthy as the arbiters of taste and legitimacy in art.