One Makes an Instrument of Themselves, and is Estranged Also
mimi cabell + lindsay foster
FEBRUARY 11 - MARCH 11, 2017
RECEPTION FEBRUARY 11, 6-9pm
In a society of employees dominated by the marketing mentality, it is inevitable that a personality market should arise. For in the great shift from manual skills to the art of ‘handling’, selling and servicing people, personal or even intimate traits of employees are drawn into the sphere of exchange and become commodities in the labor market… Kindness and friendliness become aspects of personalized service or of public relations of big firms, rationalized to further the sale of something. With anonymous insincerity, the successful person thus makes an instrument of his own appearance and personality…In the formulas of ‘personnel experts’, men and women are to be shaped into the ‘well rounded, acceptable, effective personality’ (to close the deal or to make the sale)…
-p. 182-3, 187, “White Collar: The American Middle Classes,” C. Wright Mills
To work today means to sit in an office, a coffee shop, a co-works space, a couch. It means to speak more than move, spend time in front of a computer, send email, “move” “paper,” speak on conference calls, Skype, Google Hangout; it means to manage ideas and data over matter, and work with a team of people flung across the globe. Is this progress? We use corporate lingo to teach our children lessons. We use slogans to inspire our exercise routines. The anesthetization and homogeneity of corporate aesthetics have bled into our homes while the “office” looks ever more like a “home” (where’s the meditation room?). We re-perform roles that we’ve seen on tv and heard in training seminars. Are our therapists recycling jargon from Stuart Smalley? One Makes an Instrument of Themselves, and is Estranged Also is a body of work that investigates how the groupthink of contemporary corporate and freelance culture requires teamwork, and continual self, friend, and colleague management. Our concerns with this body of work are the commercialized self, the marketized private life, the one that is unknowingly produced by the corporate cum personal concerns that surround it, and to which it is unaware (how can it be?).
With this work we focused on the word manage, and other words that contain its root — man — to manipulate, to mandate, to manufacture. Dating from the 16th century the word manage is based on the Italian word mannegiare, which in turn is based on the Latin manus, or “hand.” Manage in its original form meant to “put a horse through the paces of the manège.” Essentially, to train a horse according to the conventions of the art of horsemanship. This undisguised reference to “training” fascinated us for its reference to the social training we undergo as citizens in a society, and for the blatant clash that occurs when flattened against new corporate structures in which words like team building, collaboration, intuition, and facilitation are used in the place of “management.” Your manager, no matter their title, is still putting you “through the paces of the manège.”
Lindsay Foster and Mimi Cabell both received MFA’s in photography and new media; Foster from CalArts, Cabell from RISD. Cabell further went on to receive a second MFA in electronic writing from Brown University. Each work with photography, video, performance, and language, and share a common interest in social engineering — both physical and non-physical in form, and the language that literally and symbolically shapes these physical and non-physical spaces. In 2015 Foster exhibited a new project, A Proper Hidden Frenzy at Akademie Schloss Solitude, and spoke in conversation about a connected project Lost Luggage Pos. 278 with curator Marina Fokidis on the Solitude Blog.
Mimi Cabell has recently shown work from her collaborative project Archeology of Counterinsurgency in Gothenburg, Sweden, published work in Cabinet magazine and Prodigal journal. Her collaborative work, American Psycho, was featured in Kunstforum’s fall 2016 ‘post-digitalism’ issue, and has been available at Printed Matter in New York, and Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris. The two met met at the Akademie Schloss Solitude and have been working collaboratively since 2013. In 2014 they showed their series, Keep Shining,at Lotte Projektraum in Stuttgart, Germany. Their latest series series, Middle Management, was shown at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis in November 2016.