"“For a show based around the concept of labor, there’s a lot of playfulness here: artists and visitors carve their names into a picnic table, undulate on a waterbed, play Donkey Kong and compete in mini tennis. The environment’s lightness — a hallmark of socializing — underscores the fact that Working Conditions is, at its core, a social project.
The group of artists in this social space is not random. Each artist was chosen by a different member of the Southern Exposure curatorial committee, who worked to develop a roomful of people who would actively investigate the concept of labor, but work in totally different ways. It’s like a tiny, themed grad school program without professors, deadlines or official critiques. In the absence of school’s structure, the artists have been sharing informal feedback by reacting to and interacting with the artwork of their studio mates.
Trial and error is one of the more conspicuous elements of the creative process rarely on display in a gallery setting. Working Conditions, though, is full of public prototyping.
Ethan Worden and Steven Barich, in particular, are working on meditative, inward-facing projects I wouldn’t have expected to function as smoothly in a public environment. Worden said he’s been challenged to move more quickly back and forth between engaging visitors in his space and focusing on the repetitive but strategic act of gluing small strips of lumber into an asymmetrical structure.
After Worden and Barich are periodically pulled away from the details of their meticulous work, they return to performing their processes with renewed perspective from peer feedback and from the simple act of conversing, an experience so different from the state of absorption fostered by their work.
Most shows celebrate the completion of a project, where you’re able to connect an artist’s intent with their final work. The opening of Working Conditions, of course, marked the beginning of a process, not the end. And throughout the rest of the show’s run, you’ll witness not a final product but nine simultaneous transformations from concept to creation. Each project here began with a particular conceptual basis, but the connection to these foundations continues to morph in response to the social environment. After all, while our party personas are born of our quieter, more thoughtful moments, they’re honed at the party.”
– Marion Anthonisen, KQED Arts, Art Review , December, 2011."