Lives shaped by boxes…
by Latitude Artist Community with Caitlin Serey
a box-folding ritual performance/meditation which examines the tedium associated with this very typical form of work/employment common to those of us considered by some to have disabilities…
Thursday, October 20th
at Latitude Artist Community
167 Saunier St., Lexington, KY
9:00am-3:00pm Meditation--the public is invited to attend/observe this performance at any time during this period. This performance is free and open to everyone.
12:30pm-1:00pm Presentations--various presenters/readers will share information regarding concerns, observations and alternatives to this veiled form of work/employment
It is our belief that most forms of employment held by those of us considered by some to have disabilities, even (and often particularly) those jobs held in high regard by employment specialists are quite often isolating and unfulfilling. While our performance "Lives shaped by boxes..." seemingly references employment practices most common to "Sheltered Workshops" our intention is not to single out workshop environments but to use this opportunity to examine all forms of employment common to those of us considered (particularly) to have intellectual disabilities.
More info: Bruce Burris (859) 806-0195, firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to the 60+ who attended and to all those who lent a hand!
From Institute 193:
Today at Latitude Artist Community, Caitlin Serey and the Latitude artists presented a performance that examines the tedium associated with the forms of employment that people considered to have disabilities often hold. A box-folding ritual was designed to explore aspects of work that can be isolating or unfulfilling, especially in the context of jobs that employment specialists and social workers hold in high regard for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Presentations and discussions accompanied the performance.
Click here for performance video
Written by an artist at Latitude about her own work experience:
I work when they have a job--whenever they need us. I put tabs on different bottles. It’s sticky and it stinks. I like my job. I get to sit down and I do it and you push the plastic with your thumbs. And sometimes you have to open them boxes and THAT is hard work. It’s not fun when they don’t punch ‘em out right and I have to go back and punch ‘em out again. I can do it. Sometimes I have to label the boxes. If they don’t have any work for us we have to stay all day. We make money but we have to count each and every box we do. If the boxes’ top parts are closed we have to pull with all our might to get ‘em open. They are HARD to get open! I never seen the like! But you have to open them and put the little bottles next to the big bottles. That is hard work--the little bottle has to be on the side JUST RIGHT. So you never know how much you’ll make. Let me tell you, when you go home your thumbs are blistered and let me tell you, they hurt. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It’s not fun.
photos (with thanks to Phillip Jones)
On lives shaped by boxes:
Life Beyond the Box: A Performance of Life and Work
Marshall J. Duncan
Gustav Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio is an enchanting glimpse of the artist’s atelier in 1844. There’s so much going on; we transplant ourselves into the artist’s canvas where dogs play with children and men tell high tales and women glance over their shoulder to see who is making an entrance and poets darken the corners with solemn preoccupations while violins play and the smells of incense, mold, and sweat are almost as real as we dare to imagine. The power of nostalgia emanates from the moment where the occurrence was observed, documented, and over time matures to antiquity to the point where we try to recreate that event in our minds. Reaffirming Courbet’s theme of realism the creation of art and appreciation of art is a shared experience as opposed to being an isolated or exclusionary event that is an elitist privilege. Such an experience happened last week at the Latitude Atelier where Caitlin Serey gave a performance of folding and unfolding cardboard boxes. Serey performed this act of labor—or perhaps meditative ritual—while art students and other friends of Latitude came by to observe, ask questions, and share the experience. Just like The Painter’s Studio the center of focus is Serey working while in the background people chat, the Latitude artists are working on their own projects, Modest Mouse gently resonates from the boom-box, and the aroma of Starbucks coffee fills the room.
Shared observations make the world real and give us purpose to live passionately when our menial occupations such as making cardboard boxes tend to make us feel separated from the essence of humanity. Looking at The Painter’s Studio we might feel envious of the people in this scene who seem to be preoccupied with something else but—even so—are collectively unified in sharing and expressing their appetite for living the moment; we might feel that our ability to express oneself has been marginalized by popular media or by cognitive reciprocity—our inability to give without expecting something in return. These inward thoughts provoke complex emotions of envy, contempt, and angst which in turn lead to irrational and complacent expressions that make up our sporadic, un-rhythmic, and un-celebrated lives; no wonder our own reality seems bleak compared to the vivacious menagerie that consumes every square inch of Courbet’s canvass.
As witness to last week’s box folding performance and the ensuing kinetic events that are evolving I have a renewed sense of pride for being able to share my own ideas while learning something new as well as a heightened sense of awareness of community members that aren’t looking for some sort of immediate gratification but are instead enjoying the shared experience of a simple task. Additionally the vivid memory that I share with a roomful of people shall in turn be recreated for another audience and therefore in the future we all shall share the collective comfort of celebrating life’s little accomplishments and forever preserve the spirit of nostalgia and the esteemed privilege of inclusiveness through art.