OFFICE DIALOG installation
As part of the LINES DRAWN exhibition at the DiverseWorks, I installed my office desk (originally my father’s) to have philosophical dialogues with visitors, viewers and participants about basic external human rights, concepts about the meaning of extraterritorial space and citizenship, and conversations about expanded definitions of citizenship as internally realized entitlements. The office desk’s transference introduces issues about the loci of authority and how culture and information are conveyed, exchanged and arbitrated.
Simultaneously, LOCCA and the installation are monitored (surveilled) so that video transmissions of either can be viewed at each location. I occupy my installation as a physical and symbolic bridge from the LOCCA headquarters in the East End, to the newly developed and cosmopolitan midtown area of Houston. Once realized here it functions as an “extraterritorial” space where possibilities are formulated and new affiliations are developed with people from all walks of life (not just artists), to consider novel approaches to create contracts between ourselves and society. Within the gallery walls the office becomes a “cultural exchange free-zone.” My office hours are from 1pm-5pm on each Saturday throughout the exhibition’s duration till November 18, 2017.
This performative and real-life dialog produces documentation in the form of note taking and art making. I engage not only through conversation but by also writing down my observations on red and white card stock.
Using a red sharpies and white crayon I highlight parts of our discussion that are important to me and the participant. I invite them to do the same. When we have exhausted our conversation, I stamp and seal each page with my logo. Participants are welcome to keep their notes and art work.
This type of activity encourages an interpersonal, reciprocal and transactional communication. It relates the act of conversation to the practice of art making. Documenting and drawing out our thoughts creates a material and physical form of our time together to have for future reference, display or art exhibition. Photos and videos also record the conversation, with the permission of the participant. Because I also happen to be a Texas State certified notary, each document has the potential added benefit of being notarized. If the text produced by the participant has a statement that they believe to be “true” and it can accurately as possible reflect their belief or values as a fact, then their art work/note sheet can be notarized.
In addition, as a certified Deputy Voter Registrar, I provide the voter registration services for Harris County.
The installation is in constant state of fluidity. A major part of it’s physical presence in the gallery space is the inclusion of a fabricated, scale model of the facade of LOCCA on Canal street. It is suspended above the desk and visitor seating.
The portico shape transforms every week with a change of the statement shingles. The statements reflect evocative and internal senses of what it means to be a fulfilled citizen. These signs mimics how LOCCA have statements painted on the façade throughout its establishment. To maintain the ethic of inclusivity and as reference to the predominately Hispanic residents of the neighborhood where LOCCA resides, the signs are written in Spanish. The previous week’s statement shingles are collected and accumulate at the base of the desk. The Office Dialog installation is in a constant state of change.
Though superficially Beuys-ian (ie. the artist Joseph Beuys) in it’s appearance, the Office Dialogs are not artist led/driven, but instead rely on free-flowing conversations and exchanges depending on the experiences and ideas of the participants. Discussions swirl around the real-life, physical, practical, emotive, political and conceptual philosophies, thoughts and positions. The LOCCA installation’s main inspiration come from the Capabilities Approaches to human rights and the Central Human Capabilities list by the theorist Dr. Martha C. Nussbaum.
Please see the BLOG page for updates about the Office Dialogs.