“What is this?” asked A$AP Rocky from inside a plexiglas box installed at Sotheby’s New York. This was Lab Rat, an original performance piece in which rapper, producer and entrepreneur A$AP Rocky portrayed himself as a test subject undergoing physical and psychological tests administered by two “experts” while surrounded by a crowd of onlookers and a world of viewers tuning in for the YouTube livestream.

By turns humorous, poignant, metaphysical and just plain meta, Lab Rat addressed questions of fame, ego, artistic agency versus the demands of fans, sex, love, loss and why it has taken him so long to finish his next (very-soon-to-be-released) album. 

A$AP ROCKY EMERGING FROM WATER DURING THE DRAMATIC OPENING MOMENTS OF LAB RAT. PHOTOGRAPH BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY/BFA.COM.

Lab Rat was a continuation of Sotheby’s dialogue with A$AP Rocky, which began with a video in our Fearless Now series that brought the musician together with artist-activist Ai Weiwei to answer the question: what does it mean to be fearless? Through their current projects, the pair reveals complementary – if not singular – visions of why art is central to humanity.

Special thanks to AWGE@calvinklein and @redhooklabs.