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art > untitled (2005)




coat hangers on a bare wall

100cm x 30cm x 5cm (approximate)

warning: this work and the artist statement may contain irony

In this work, the project of the artist is to explore the confronting notion of the project as conceptional coat hanger and its potential for interaction with an us as conceptual organisation, in, with or for which we work.

Viewed ontologically, this arrangement provides a dialectic for exploring the behavioural phenomenon whereby those identifying as being outside the project, an emergent or emerging other, choose, either consciously or by mechanisms not in immediate or perceivable awareness, to hang qua hang their projections qua projections on the project qua project.

By starkly focussing attention on the hanger rather than the hung, the work, which paradoxically was hung by a hanger working so that it may be observed in the state identified by convention as hung as a work, illuminates the latent contrasts between the organisation as subject, the project as object, and the other (emergent or emerging) as a priori source of action, creating a semiotic matrix of dynamic expression in which the scope of observation is signified and therefore comes into awareness, establishing a polarising conflict that undermines the us even while deploying itself through an amplification of the potential for affect.

Placing subject as object without scope against the bare wall serves to impose a subliminally signified alienation by locating the wall as signifier in the proto-landscape of void as void in memory, with a consequent redefining of the habitual epistemological impact of affect in the context of unconscious but subjective observation recalibrated to a normalised experience, one too often dwarfed by the presence of an organisational convention hung on the perception of project as object.

The true story of untitled…

In 2005 I was contracted as a technical writer and business analyst to work on a large IT project for a major corporation based in Sydney. Not long after I started, my team was moved to some particularly squalid accommodations, featuring ancient desks and barren hospital green walls.  On the desk assigned to me was a pile of abandoned coat hangers. Noticing a hook on the wall behind me, and desperate to inject a little whimsy and caprice into the bleak situation, I hung four of the coat hangers on the wall and deemed it “art”, assuring my colleagues our new situation was part of an “installation”.  The artistic act broke the mood and we got on with settling in and making the most of our new location. 

The art remained on the wall and quickly became a project cause célèbre.  As project artist in residence, I named it ”untitled” and whipped up a suitable artistic statement to explain its meaning to our visitors from the corporation for whom we were building the systems. However, one of our regular visitors took to removing one of the coat hangers from “untitled” and hanging her cardigan on it.  Needless to say this affront to the integrity of the work demanded action, so I added a sign bearing the message, “please do not interfere with the art: stand back and let it interfere with you”. 

A couple of days later, one of the project managers took me aside and asked me to remove the sign as it had offended our “friend”.  I suggested she had offended us by interfering with the project's art piece.  Alas, those that pay the bills enjoy the hegemony in such situations, so I removed the  “no” sign. But, not to be bettered by such petty tyranny, I soldered the coat hangers together to prevent further interference.  Nothing more was ever said.

Many months later the project ended and its business was packed into boxes to move to the organisation’s main offices.  At the insistence of the operations team accepting delivery of the project, the “art” was included in the project deliverables.  To this day "untitled" hangs beside the operations team... with the sign restored.

And that is the true story of how "untitled" came to hang in Corporate Australia.

untitled (in situ)

untitled celebrating diverstity and maximising synergies to leverage customer delight somewhere in Corporate Australia
photo taken November 2009 just before the objectively assessed retrenchment of the artist.

bulletClick through to the next work in this series: untitled 2 (2008)

untitled is discussed in "Officing: professionals' daily ICT use and the changing space and time of work" (2010, University of Western Sydney), a doctoral thesis by Justine Humphry (available here), a former neighbour.

Interact! Participate! Plagiarise! Download these PDFs!

sign pdf   statement pdf   

This page was last updated on 24 December, 2019.

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