Office Space Collective
Identity and Duplicity
July 1, 2021 - October 31, 2021
Office Space is pleased to announce an in-person solo exhibition of six paintings executed by the Office Space Collective. This series focuses on the semiotics of painting and its historical conventions within the context of the idea of tradition as well as the subversion of that predominantly Eurocentric stance. With a wide gamut of subjects and historical representations ranging from the personal such as offbeat portraits of other artists in the New York contemporary art to protest documentation during the recent Black Lives Matter era, the Office Space Collective places the denial of artistic ownership for these works to focus on the commodification of the act of painting as well as an incisive probing into the nature of collaborative art practice.
This body of paintings created by the Office Space Collective deals with a wide range of topics and issues happening in the world from fraud in the art world, recent protests for Black Lives Matter, and even the seemingly simple, day to day social interactions with other people. What these diverse sets of problems have in common are the exploration of identity, but hidden within each of them are roots of the subconscious mind and duplicate identities that are brought to light through the visual strategies envisioned by the artist collective.
The Burning hits close to home for many, depicting a Salt Lake City police car tipped over and set aflame. This is the first time in Salt Lake's history that anything of this magnitude has happened on the protesting front, to the point of citizens rioting in the streets. But as we saw across many other cities in the country, the intense protests and riots signal the need for change. This work identifies one of the biggest duplicities in the the Nation, and in many other parts of the world; the unequal treatment of non-white races. From African-Americans to Australian Pacific-Islanders, 2020 uncovered the dark part of human nature, the ability to deceive. We are told that companies and the government hold equal opportunities, rights, and protections for everyone regardless of race, but as 2020 showed the world, this is just not the case. Some individuals in positions of power have been deceiving the nation with this double standard of treatment, in George Floyd's case it was a police officer. Theory of Mind is one of the greatest aspects of the human brain, it makes it possible for one person to think about how someone else would understand a situation or problem. Theory of mind lets us think not only about ourselves but about others intentions and emotions.
This asset is part of what makes us human and special. It allows us to help people in times of need, by addressing their emotions, we use it to teach, by being able to understand that another person can be mistaken about something and then helping them to understand the correct belief. This of course has it’s dark side, since we can understand these complex problems and anticipate how others will perceive our own identities we can deceive one another quite well. This is a big reason that systemic racism can exist many times under the radar becuase it is hidden from plain view.
Fall of the Art Dealer, and That Money Shot illustrate this well by presenting us with a case from the art world, in which a dealer (Lawrence Salander) is caught in the heat of his deception, ultimately ending in his imprisonment. Selling the same artworks twice, this not only is a display of the power of the human brain, but also an incursion of ethical standards expected to be held up by galleries. The Fall of the Art Dealer captures a very dramatic scene in motion, placing the viewer in the eyes of a journalist trying to get the scoop on the scandal. The struggle of the figures to push away from the viewer, and their defensive expressions facilitate a power over the figures. This story resolves with the gloom look of the dealer, as he has been caught in That Money Shot pose, reminiscent of a news headline photo.
In the other paintings from the collective visitors are confronted with images that present a certain outward appearance of a person. These visually create impressions on our subconscious minds, whether we are aware of them or not. Sun Goddess uses light, bright colors, giving us a sense of happiness. The woman depicted smiles and wears a large sun hat. The outward appearance is inviting, and happy. Awkward Position, depicts a young man on a bicycle, he has stopped on the sidewalk, still stradling the bike, as if to stop and talk with an acquaintance, as he looks directly at you. This action signals to our brain a visual marker of rapport, making us feel comfortable with this person, all the while the subject is awkwardly situated on his bike, something that should seem very uncomfortable, especially since in reality this is the first time we are “meeting” this person. The last work is Face Plant, which brings a new perspective to the semiotics of the word through a visual representation of a person face planting into the ground, but also the semiotics of the words as two separate entities, in which a plant is coming out of the head/face of this person. This takes a stab right at the subconscious and confronts the viewer with an alternate representation than the expected visual meaning that we would immediately associate with the word face plant.
The Office Space Collective’s body of work involves forcing the viewer to confront their own Theory of Mind. The works not only show a variety of different representations of identities but also show how all of these issues of interpreting other human beings and deceiving others, take root in the very intricate psychological processes of the brain. This complicated psychology unique to the human species works as an asset for helping humans progress and live in complex societies as we see today, but despite the rewards the consequences to this is the duplicity that is hidden away in all of us. These works force us to confront the duplicity within ourselves, and our subconscious, begging the ultimate question…
What are you hiding?
The Office Space Collective consists of Clee Ferris, Bryce Chatwin, Chunbum Park, Patrick Winfield Vogel, Albert Abdul-Barr Wang, Sajeda (Saj) Issa, Melissa Prosser, Tika Ardellya, Tim Melton, qi peng, and other personages as a group of conceptual artists, writers, and thinkers. The group’s projects represent the realizations of an unstable, subversive, and rotating forward-thinking posse focused on various, disparate site-specific projects. The collective has exhibited previously at SHRINE and Office Space and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Studio Visit Magazine.
CHECKLIST OF WORKS
Office Space Collective, Face Planter, 2021
oil on canvas, 12” x 12”
Office Space Collective, Awkward Position, 2020-2021
oil on canvas, 12” x 16”
Office Space Collective, Sun Goddess, 2020-2021
oil on canvas, 20” x 20”
Office Space Collective, Fall of the Art Dealer, 2020-2021
oil on canvas, 12” x 16”
Office Space Collective, That Money Shot, 2020-2021
oil on canvas, 11 1/4” x 15 1/2”
Office Space Collective, The Burning, 2021
oil on canvas, 12” x 24”