"sorry we're open"

Posted by Rhizome | Thu May 29th 1997 1 a.m.

Perry Hoberman
"Sorry We're Open"
Postmasters Gallery
New York City

I've always liked stupid jokes, which explains why I was smiling from
the moment I stepped into Perry Hoberman's exhibition at Postmasters
Gallery and found myself face-to-face with a giant reverse-periscope
running from eye level down under the reception desk, (and under the
receptionist's skirt, if there had been one.) I was ready for a good
laugh. My first encounter with this artist's work was last winter during
a film and video screening at Four Walls, a gallery/performance space in
Williamsburg, New York. Hoberman showed an hysterical sing-a-long video
featuring a stuffed Santa in a remote-control race car careening around
the Christmas tree to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

For the installation-cum-corporation which occupied the entire main
gallery of Postmasters, Hoberman had set up grey office dividers,
transforming the space into a rat-race of passageways and cubicles. The
cubicles, those viperous nests of gossip and paranoia, were outfitted
with "Proptronics" brand of phony plastic P.C.'s and name plates with
goofy puns like "Weezy Angst." Mugs with corporate logos and coffee
dregs sat forgotten in the corners, and phony plastic plants flourished
under the fluorescent lights.

Jokey installation pieces, more like science projects run amok, were
scattered throughout this office funhouse. A cluster of electronic
pencil sharpeners were wired to an Apple Macintosh which sporadically
started them grinding. Another Mac was hooked up to a pair of robotic
arms holding a knife and fork. With the Mouse you could move the arms up
and down, stabbing at a power-lunch of warmed over deli-fare - fruit
salad, sushi, and cake.

If it sounds like computer-geek humor, that's because it is. (Hoberman
also exhibited a floor-to-ceiling stack of computer disks titled "My
Data: The First Decade.") It was the first time in a long time that I
actually heard someone laugh out loud in an art gallery. But the goofy
computer gags were really only a front for a more sincere critique of
so-called "corporate culture." In one of the cubicles, with a nameplate
that read "Jimmy Peebles," the walls, ceiling and furniture had been -
to use the corporate lingo - downsized. A motorized ceiling was lowered
over shortened dividers and a chair was cut down to fit under a
kiddy-size desk. The title of the installation, "I Want A Bigger
Office," alluded to the idiotic machismo and over-inflated egos which
thrive in an office environment where little boys in suits act out
fantasies of power and conquest.

When I hear the term "corporate culture" I reach for my gun. As the
bastard child of the eighties boom in big corporations and self-help
literature, the term is batted about by business consultants now that
"big business" has become demod
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