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Office Drawer Turned Daring New Art Showcase

By Carolee Klimchock

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You’d be better off dead than to miss the tour de force that is Drawer@676’s “I Hate My Job” exhibit.

This stunning array of shapes and forms teases the viewer. It says Come close, but not too close. It says Will you have the fish or will you have the chicken? It says Daddy wants a little sugar.

Housed in what can only be described as an office drawer, Drawer@676 bolts onto the gallery scene in its boxiness, its matte-blackness, and its whimsical ability to roll out and roll back in, like a flight of fancy. It is the utter definition of rectangle. It offers a breath of freshly stale office air into the mixed-up mélange of gallery haute and artworld pretension. Drawer@676 brings a splash of certitude to woefully uncertain times.

The little-known artists represented in the show are sure to be in high demand, at least several weeks before hell freezes over.

Krieger’s shock-jock meat market simulacra dynamically bursts from the ground, seemingly reaching for the sky like a Coney Island wino with the sun in his eyes. Two isolated eyeballs encased in plastic linger among the meat, as perhaps a wry commentary on disconnection, disaffection and the dystopia of the work world. The artist, flush with cash after a decade as a highly paid knife-thrower’s assistant, took the job at 676 “for shits and giggles,” a move she now calls “a big mistake” while others, for reasons unknown, call it “the big Lebowski.” Nice work if you can get it, Krieger.

Barolo’s timely and provocative shredded-up grant rejection letters hang like a hunka burnin’ love in the front corner of the drawer. On loan from the permanent collection of the New Brunswick Museum of Women’s Art and Craft, Barolo’s work maintains its striking, somber poise with the aid of a size large binder clip, on sale now through April at Viking Office Supply. Barolo stumbled upon his coveted position at 676 by literally stepping in a pile of shit. “I was wiping dog you-know-what off my shoe when Margaret Labbert walked by and offered me a job,” Barolo said, sotto voce.

The performative crown of thorns by former death row inmate Levinsky is sine qua non. Its cylindricality speaks to the quid pro quo circularity of humdrum office chatter.  “I was gonna wear the thing to the opening,” Levinsky volunteered, “But then I was like, ‘Fuck it.’”  As the Latins would say: Res ipsa loquitur. Multiple, repetitive, bold red stamps of “Not Authentic” underscore the socio-cultural tensions between authentic/not authentic, real/unreal, inside/outside, this/that/the other, such-and-such/so-and-so, whatup/not much.

Ream’s cleverly juxtaposed images sit on sparse terrain, a punch in the gut for the soul, if you will. The works in her triptych are simultaneously light and pungent, like the watered down bitterness of Hahn’s cornerstore coffee. The central work, an obfuscation of the phrase “work ethic” slaps the viewer in the mug with “WO’ ‘THIC”, a phrase sure to be the rage among South Bronx youth by June. Don’t be surprised if standing before this
striking and sultry trio sends shivers up your spine or causes a treatable but potentially deadly skin condition called Steven-Johnson Syndrome. The central images of the two flanked pieces are much like the artist herself: woolly and mammalian.

Quizzical, sundry, naked, this bouquet of work speaks to the scared little girl in all of us.

The philosophical landscape of “I Hate My Job” hits at myriad potent queries such as-- what is “hate”, what is “job”?  In this postmodern centrifuge, who can really say?  Seriously, who?  Who?!

Sordid tales, checkered pasts and dreadful employment opportunities make “IHMJ” a hoot and a holler for the entire dysfunctional family. And that includes you, Grandma Phyllis and “Uncle” Biffy. Interfacing with these works will surely either make you “wanna throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care” or do “The Butt.”

In the words of Jacques Derrida: “The intelligible face of the sign remains turned toward the word and the face of God,” and if there is one show this season that brings us closest to the face of that rat bastard some of you know as God the Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth, it is, without a doubt, “I Hate My Job”.

On view now through April 31, by appointment only.

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Carolee spent 18 years in Texas trying to assess the nutritional value of hogwash, four years at Smith College weighing the merits of a .8 inch margin vs. a 1 inch margin, and six of the last seven years in a self-inflicted prison of the mind. She currently resides at the top of her game. Buttloads of spam can be sent to: klimchock@hotmail.com.  (Please put “delete this immediately” in the subject heading.)  Stalkers can find her at:
http://epistemological.blogspot.com. 

 


(c) Defenestration Magazine, 2004