Thursday, November 22, 2007
In July 2007, I was invited to propose a project for the Fellows of Contemporary Art 'Curator Lab' series. For sometime I had been interested in working with artists to produce new work in response to the itinerant site of the commute. I was intrigued by the way that the commute from home to work, from A to B, has increasingly become a condition of urban life, as well as one of the primary modes by which we interface with and experience the city.
Marc Augé has argued that if point A (home) and Point B (work) are places, then the space between them is a non-place. If places can be identified as relational, historical and concerned with identity, spaces associated with transitory functions are thus paramount examples of non-place. Should we thus conceptualize the commute as being “out of place”? What is certainly true is that the environments of home and work seep into the space of the commute. The multitasking commuter is found putting on makeup, fielding calls from home and the office, drinking coffee, listening to the radio, reading the paper, eating, contemplating the work tasks of the day, planning and arranging family activities, and zoning out in Zen-like meditative repose. Is the space of the commute a threshold between two points of mooring, a space of passage through which the social body traverses as it transitions from the private self—associated with the home—to the public self—associated with the world of work? Or is it rather a mobile place that is employed by the commuter in order to fulfill a series of tasks and activities that the pressures of everyday life have rendered impossible to complete elsewhere? If one spends up to two hours a day commuting does the space of the commute become a place, albeit an itinerant one? In an effort to reconsider our relationship to a space we inhabit on a daily basis, I invited six Los Angeles based artists to produce new work that would map and intervene in the mobile site of the commute. The project group first met at the Fellows of Contemporary Art's space in Chinatown in August 2007. Subsequently, we reconvened for an informal working session to discuss our past work and interests in September 2007.