the times of then

then was a time of great separation. in order to function the people of then needed to know where they stood. who are my people? where is my place? what is my role?

tell me my purpose.

then was a time of classification. placing peoples in arbitrary sects of psedotogetherness: man. woman. straight. gay. christian. atheist. rich. poor. white collar. blue collar. liberal. conservative. within these groups, the peoples of then felt a sense of peace, a sense of purpose, a sense of security, and a sense of power. however warped we now may find this sense of self to have been, it was what the people of then strived for. everything the people of then did was to find their sense of self, real or imagined.

and once their sense of self was found, it was the utmost responsibility of the people of then to tell as many others as they could about it. by posting on antiquated social media sites such as facebook and instagram, these programs of old allowed the peoples of then to provide the world a completely fake and altered image of the life they were really living. by using filters and photo-altering applications, the people of then were able to project whatever kind of image they felt necessary. the images the people of then projected correlated directly with the classification they wished to place themselves.

while the people of then often posted brags of a life of fulfillment and beauty, the people of then were incredibly depressed as a whole. what the people of then didn’t realize, was that attempting to find fulfillment through a mere representations of reality, in actuality, detracts from an individual’s ability to appreciate one’s actual life. but the people of then weren’t concerned with inner peace and happiness. the people of then were concerned with their outward representation of peace and happiness from within their false reality — the idealistic and unattainable image of one’s fullest potential was what the people of then held most dear.

the people of then lived in a culture of rampant insecurity. the people of then were looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. the infinite power of their time and energy was spent “looking down”, as it would later come to be called, into their cellular phones incessantly checking and posting to all of their social media accounts. today we know the dire consequences of spending a life “looking down”. besides the incredible physical health risks (bent neck syndrome, blue-glow eye disease, carpel tunnel of the thumbs), looking down caused the people of then missed opportunities for social justice and growth. the people of then spent so much time looking down that they didn’t bother to really see those around them; they understood their neighbors to be the representations the neighbors worked so hard to create. they spent all of their time online arguing for their causes to maintain a place of status within their group and feel a sense of self-worth. and while social media gave the people of then a false sense of togetherness and connectedness, the people of then continue to be the least socially connected generation of all time.

this exhibit dispiritedly looks back upon the people of then with a sense of cruel irony in the knowledge of the ultimate outcome of such a “connected” and “technological” society. this exhibit will give you a rare glimpse into a life of looking down.

From the Collection of the Artist

jury duty

we all sit together in the room, equally inconvenienced, as we prepared to be selected for a jury.

the receptionist, a sweet woman who wraps her sweater around her extra tightly to keep warm, is a woman who probably has a few cats, and loves them dearly, as she would children. who drinks coffee with milk and extra sugar in the faded mug she bought on a camping trip in 1983. she assures us, a few times, that we are more than welcome to help ourselves to the coffee and tea. she wears cheap makeup and out-of-style clothes, her black and pilled sweater has been washed one too many times. her roots are showing and her lipstick is cracked and has stained her lips and her eye shadow is electric blue. she seems like the kind of woman who loves her grandchildren fiercely and who may enjoy one too many beers on a saturday night.

she is sunny and friendly, smiling as she directs yet another incompetent potential juror who, despite the multiple signs posted around the waiting room, just can’t seem to find the restroom.

her job, though simple, is extremely taxing. imagine the barrage of complaints she gets on a daily basis from middle-class residents whose jobs and lives are way more important than everyone else’s. who simply are above the rules and everyone who sets them. who simply don’t have time to be here right now. despite all this, she maintains a semblance of understanding and warmth.

in the darkest of ironic contrasts, a woman approaches the receptionist clutching her laptop case and balancing her grande soy latte. “it just took me and incredible amount of planning and arrangements to be here today”, she explains dolefully as the receptionist, her head turned slightly left, nods sympathetically.

this woman is dressed in a tori burch sweater and seven jeans. her hair is freshly dyed and styled. her makeup is crisp, clean, and airbrushed.

she is not a pretty woman, but she is flawless.

as she stands, looking down on the receptionist who is sitting in her cheap and fraying swivel chair, she continues to mournfully explain her struggle with spending the day here.

“you see,” she continues. “it’s just that i have an eleven year old and a two year old. i had to make a lot of calls to arrange their day. and, it’s just that, i work on commission so if i don’t work i don’t get paid. i cannot possibly sit here all day, i never sit!” she laughs superficially, high and nervous. she searches the receptionist’s face for an inkling of what she hopes to be understanding. after a brief pause, she continues:

“and, it’s just that, my kids are upstate and i have to drive all the way out there. it’s just that i really can’t afford to be here today, never mind for an entire trial.”

she spoke as if “it’s just that…” was a good enough reason for her to be let go. immediately.

the receptionist, who compared to this woman now looks like a cheap atlantic city casino waitress, never waivers. she is empathetic and allows this woman to continue to rattle off entitled excuses without even blinking, all the while nodding along with this woman’s bratty complaining. the receptionist has seen it all before.

the receptionist allows this mindless suburban mother who has lost all sense of reality to continue her afflicted excuses as to why she is more important than the rest of us, how she is above the constitution of the united states, and how jury duty is simply not on her list of things to do today.

after this woman has exhausted all excuses, she has run out of breath, she looks longingly at the receptionist to give her the go ahead to leave.

after a pregnant pause, the receptionist heroically knocks this woman from atop her mile high pedestal of tori burch sweaters and michael kors key rings with a simple, but genuine response:

“i understand and i’m sorry, but you’ll have to just wait in here with everyone else.”

the woman is wounded, her eyes flash, as if being referred to as ‘everyone else’ was the worst insult this sunny receptionist could say.

our receptionist smiles genuinely and takes a sip of her lukewarm morning coffee as the woman grudgingly walks away and sits back down among everyone else.

jury duty — 010515

clipping coupons

she sat there, alone, in the kitchen. the wooden chair creaking lightly as her weight shifted ever so slightly when she reached for a new circular. the tv so low it was barely audible. the news. channel 7.

the scissors were poised lightly and perfectly in her aging hand. she held them gently as she turned each and every page of each and every circular. her tongue floating between her lips as she bit lightly on it deep in concentration.

she would look at the circulars for four different supermarkets; i want to get the best bang for my buck, she would say. when she found a coupon worth cutting, she’d cut along the edges. perfect. straight. she’d take the coupon worth a measly 50 cents and place it inside her coupon holder. a small victory in the grand scheme of food shopping.

life jacket

i gripped the back of his life jacket and turned my head up to the sky. i closed my eyes and felt the warmth and brightness of the sun in every pore of my face. sea mist splashed me gently. the smell of the ocean air was cathartic. my hair blew back behind me, knotting up with the salty sea air.

“do you trust me?” i asked,
convinced that, by now, he had to.