Leisure Management Corp
In May at Schroeder Romero Eric Heist presents an installation of institutional structures. Titled Leisure Management Corp, a reception desk, boardroom table, corporate art, and an instructional videotape are employed to present a corporate/gallery environment where the boundaries between leisure and work have collapsed.
Heist employs a wide range of materials and approaches to his subject matter, including digital light box displays, Formica furniture, leather managers’ chairs, used cardboard, used clothing and blankets. These materials denote privilege versus disenfranchisement. Homeless shelters set within a reception desk and a corporate board table are intended to suggest non-materialist places of refuge from institutional discipline; the very discipline that encourages the play of fantasy despite corporate architects’ best efforts.
In “Training Video” the attempts to provide models for acceptable interaction in a professional setting are undermined with the guttural soundtrack of a porn movie, suggesting an unintended, pre-verbal form of training that seems to spontaneously erupt from the actors.
In inverse relation to their lowest rung on the corporate ladder, the janitor’s typically squalid supply room opens onto a seductive personal discotheque.
All of the work attempts to replace that which is hidden or missing in the original context–the claustrophobia of squalor is balanced with the claustrophobia of leisure. The black color scheme of the ensemble mimics the impossibility of escape given the range of options.
Using the corporate environment as a starting point for the projection of fantasies, these pieces examine through reference and analogy the struggle to retain a balance between necessity and desire. The terms that define poverty, wealth, power, vulnerability, professional practice, and sexual practice are mixed, joined, displayed and withheld to suggest a singularity of experience, denying the codes of power they represent. An installation of related sculptural objects and images presenting the corporation as a model for existence, these pieces examine through reference and analogy the struggle to retain a balance between necessity and desire. The terms that define poverty and wealth, power and vulnerability, professional versus sexual practice are mixed, joined, displayed and withheld to suggest a singularity of experience, denying the codes of identification they represent. Alienation is described through the restriction of space in counterpoint to a personal desire for boundaries affording protection. Discipline provides the counterpoint to asocial behaviors made erotic through their necessarily furtive nature. Reference to homeless, makeshift structures suggest places of refuge from materialism, of hiding places from a rigidly defined hierarchy that provides fertile ground for fantasies. This exaggerated environment provides additional opportunities for the fulfillment of fantasies.
Reception Desk: A hybrid reception desk and provisional sleeping structure fabricated with black Formica and used cardboard, this object provides a workstation in the daytime and a personal sleep alcove for the night. The sculpture is intended to communicate a collapse of boundaries defining work and leisure. The receptionist is alienated by the definition of her position, a relay to connections, upon whom fantasies are projected. When approached from the front, the desk functions as a barricade, protecting an individual with the might of the corporation. This untouchable quality can only lead to fantasies projected onto the receptionist. Once stripped of the conditions of wealth, however, the brutality of unprotected, immaterial existence promises a face of horror. Without the trappings of socialized existence, alone in the night, we are left only with a fear of death.
Posters: A series of silk-screened posters on fluorescent paper with flocked images of business meetings; these pieces are intended as low brow office hallway and waiting room decoration. Like psychedelic rock posters substituting business professionals as idols, these pieces suggest the pervasive corporate model for all types of behavior. Rebellion is replaced with a narrowed definition of acceptable transgressive behavior. In this way the piece reflects the ongoing and accelerating co-option of “the cool” by the corporate world.
Board Table: A ten-foot board table filled in the center with a tent-like sleeping area, this piece provides a meeting place for men during the day and in the night. It also provides a place to sleep, though here there is the option to interact in both a business setting and a more comfortable, less inhibited arrangement. This object encourages male bonding at all levels, though its utility is hampered by the fact that the tent-like structure obscures the view from across the table, obstructing communication. The impossibility of knowing how much is shared and how truly alone we are is represented in the top half. The bottom half represents a fantasy of reconciliation, of a remedy for our fears that we are as alone as we feel.
On the walls surrounding the table hang framed drawings that serve as corporate art. These images complement the provisional nature of the sleeping structure – construction sites, commercial trash, discarded office equipment. These pieces expose the underlying desire to dismantle the definitions imposed on everyone in a capital-driven society through the desire to see the blatantly invisible. Excess, garbage, and waste become the necessary byproducts of a society that hates itself.
Maintenance: A working door with the label “Maintenance” that opens to reveal a flush mounted illuminated door-size photograph of a personal discotheque – a mirror ball hanging over a lighted floor with an empty black background. The janitor’s room hides from the public a space that often becomes personalized and provides a place to hide. Workers can often be found in this squalid space as it provides a measure of privacy and a space for rest or contemplation. The disco image expands on the fantasy projection element possible in such a space; a removal of oneself from an intolerable claustrophobia. The viewer is prevented from entering the room because of this fantasy that mirrors his/her own image in the stark black reflection.
Eric Heist, 2002