Artists Katarina Jerinic and Naomi Miller, and Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, are pleased to announce The Work Office (TWO) will be open during the week of October 2–8, 2011, with a full schedule of work assignments that will be performed and on view in the northern section of Times Square.
TWO’s employees are: Rachel Buchanan & Karen McIntyre, Michelle Cheikin, Carla Della Beffa, Jessie Feller & Anna Brown Massey, Veronica Dougherty, Guillaume Légaré, Betsy Medvedovsky, Lori Nelson, Karen Schoellkopf, and Nina Wengel. All work assignments will be presented and celebrated during a Payday Party on Thursday, October 6th from 6–9 pm; additional presentations are scheduled throughout the week. At the Payday Party, a paycheck will be distributed to each employee for $23.50, once the weekly wage for an artist in the Federal One Project, the arts division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. The event is free and open to the public.
Selected from an international pool of applicants, the artists will be hired for one week—October 2–8—to complete their response to a TWO assignment. The artist/employees’ assignments, such as documenting a need for repairs, making a regional travel guide for a block or neighborhood, reinterpreting a newspaper photograph, or giving a concert for a houseplant, will be performed and on view throughout the workweek on Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets and on Duffy Square in Times Square. A full shcedule of events, including various individual performances, follows. In addition to the Payday Party, artist/employees will be present during the “Office Hours” event on Saturday, October 8th from 12–4 pm. All assignments will be available on the TWO website thereafter.
The Work Office (TWO) is a collaborative, multidisciplinary art project disguised as an employment agency. Informed by the WPA of the Great Depression in the 1930s, TWO is a gesture to “make work” for visual and performing artists, writers, and others by giving them simple, idea-based assignments that explore, document, and improve daily life in New York. TWO's administrators—Jerinic and Miller—manage all aspects of the project, including oversight of the office and website. As the project’s lead artists, they perform the dull bureaucratic work that ensures that their employees make artwork.
TWO is based on the idea of “making work” (WPA terminology) for artists to “make work” (artist terminology). The project was born of an appreciation for the WPA and recurring comparisons in the news media between that era and today. With the current economic recession in mind, TWO revisits the approach the 1930s federal government took to alleviate the effects of the Depression on daily life. Artists were employed to make art— alongside infrastructure and other projects to rebuild the country—and were seen as a valuable labor force. Despite recent wistful references to the WPA, it seems implausible in contemporary US culture that artists would be remunerated for their work in this way. TWO is a wry, contemporary realization of this model.
The TWO process requires artists to apply, interview, sign contracts, and work a full week to complete their assignment. Payday Parties are the culmination of the workweek, where employees are paid for their labor and the public is invited to view and interact with the works and learn about the project. Payday Parties are inspired by the socializing that occurred between artists as they waited in line to collect their wages at their local WPA office. They also provide a forum for TWO artists and the general public to interact and exchange ideas. All completed assignments will be on view in Times Square and on the project’s website: www.theworkoffice.com.
The Work Office (TWO) is supported by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, which is made possible by the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
About the TWO artists:
Katarina Jerinic participated in the Bronx Museum’s AIM program, and was a resident at MacDowell Colony, the Experimental Television Center, and the Center for Book Arts. She has a MFA from School of Visual Arts in Photography and Related Media (2002) and a BA in American History from American University (1995). Exhibitions include Nurtureart, Rotunda Gallery, and DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival, Brooklyn, NY; Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY; Fox Art Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ; Center for Book Arts, New York, NY; and Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA.
Naomi Miller is a photography-based artist whose work involves both interior monologues and communal conversations, creating structures that formalize her relationships with others. She is currently commissioning artist-lead tours in her 1978 Volvo station wagon. Her recent exhibitions include the Wassaic Project 2011 Summer Festival, NY; Bronx River Arts Center, NY; Homestead Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Printed Matter, New York, NY; Steven Wolf Fine Arts and Royal Nonesuch Gallery, San Francisco, CA. She holds a MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in English and studio art from Clark University.
About The Work Office (TWO):
The Work Office (TWO) is a collaboration between Katarina Jerinic and Naomi Miller. They began developing TWO in late 2008, successfully running it in the summer of 2009 with support from chashama and the Black Rock Arts Foundation. They hired 50 artists as employees and held three packed Payday Parties next to an IRS office and the National Debt Clock. Their second run was in a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Swing Space, with 31 employees hired over six weeks.The third iteration occured during the Dumbo Arts Festival 2010, where 34 employees filled an empty office space with their assignments. Media coverage includes a Critic’s Pick in New York magazine, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’s Artbeat blog, NYFA Currents, Radio WBAI’s Evening News, New Deal 2.0—a project of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and the online version of Dossier, a Brooklyn-based arts journal.
The Work Office (TWO) Assignments & Employee Bios
Rachel Buchanan & Karen McIntyre
Record an Oral History: Times Square Workers
Buchanan and McIntyre will create a short documentary video that captures the daily life of those who work in one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. By profiling those who work on the street level—shopkeepers, vendors, tour busoperators, performers, and doormen—the video explores a community developed within a famously busy environment.
Rachel Buchanan is a Brooklyn-based producer with over seventeen years of experience in film and television production.
She has worked for several award-winning documentary film companies including David Grubin Productions and Insignia Films. She was the assistant editor for the Emmy-winning PBS series, “The Secret Life of the Brain.” Rachel earned a degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in textile design. She is a post production producer at NBC Universal for the cable channels USA and Syfy.
Karen McIntyre is a New York-based filmmaker who has worked in the industry for over twenty years. She studied film at FAMU in Prague, and VGIK in Moscow where she produced and directed narrative films for “A Dozen Columbuses.” She has continued producing projects internationally. Most recently, she produced the NYU graduate short-film “Back to the Dust.” Karen was the Events Coordinator for the West Virginia International Film Festival and served on the Board of Directors for the Cucalorus Independent Film Festival in Wilmington, NC.
Catalog Existing WPA Structures: Worlds Fair Cleanup Parade, October 2, 2011
Cheikin will photograph a contemporary reinterpretation of an image taken at the Worlds Fair Cleanup Parade, circa 1940. A restaging of the event in the same location will occur with current day Department of Sanitation workers dancing with Broadway dancers.
Michelle Cheikin is a photographer who holds a BA in Sociology from Clark University, Worcester, MA and a MFA in Photography and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. She has taught photography at Harlem School of the Arts and currently teaches at Hostos Community College. Her photography has been exhibited in galleries in San Francisco, New York, and Vermont, as well as at the Queens Museum of Art and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. She is a resident of Queens, NY. michellecheikin.com
Carla Della Beffa
Give a Concert for a Plant: Potted Plant Serenade
An Italian video artist who uses her voice in her artwork, Della Beffa will serenade Times Square potted plants with traditional love songs and lullabies from various Italian regions. The a cappella performance will include ballads about love, betrayal, death, and punishment, just like the themes in operas. Lyrics will be available to the public.
Carla Della Beffa is a visual and video artist from Milan, Italy. She has worked with painting, Net-art, digital photography,and video. Lead by intellectual curiosity, empathy, beauty, and change, Della Beffa’s interdisciplinary projects include individual research and collaboration. She complements her video works with her voice singing or reading, drawings, and photos. She has always loved plants and years ago she sang these same sorts of songs at friends’ weddings. She has published two books and her family name means “joke.” www.carladellabeffa.com
Document a Need for Repairs: Mending and Advice Station
Engaging with the public, Dougherty will offer a temporary public service station which seeks to repair. She will mend clothes, bags, and other items with tape, needle and thread, glue, and other fixatives, while offering advice for the mending of the heart. Problems and advice recorded with participants’ permission.
Veronica Dougherty’s public interventions use audio and performance to alter the spectator/participant’s perception of his environment. Her work has been commissioned or sponsored by the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, Washington Square Association, Peekskill Arts Council, Buffalo’s Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, and others. Projects include The Surveillance Camera Scavenger Hunt, Quiet Disco parties, and The Disappearance of Johnny X., an interactive live-action mystery which explores the history of a Brooklyn neighborhood.
Jessie Feller & Anna Massey Brown:
Start an American Tradition: Bring the Theater to the Street: Sing & Dance Along
Two professional dancer-singers will lead a spontaneous crowd in a live sing-and-dance-along to top Broadway hits. They will teach basic dance steps to accompany each song’s chorus. By bringing Broadway theater to the street and inviting everyday folk to participate in its vibrant artistic life, the pair celebrates Broadway’s unique place as the global center of music and dance.
Jessie Feller is co-artistic director of VaBang! Dance Company. She has performed works by choreographers Robert Battle, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Steve Rooks, and Kathy Wildberger, among others, and has performed with Labayen Dance/SF, Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, Dynamic Revelations, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, among others. Feller earned her BA in Urban Studies and Hispanic Studies from Vassar College, and her MSc in Environment and Development Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in August 2007. www.vabang.org
Anna Brown Massey makes new dance work for stage, film, and nontraditional venues. Her repertory has been presented at Chen Dance Theater, Manhattan Movement Arts Center, and Portland Stage, among others. She is the creator and producer of both Nachmo! National Choreography Month and the monthly outdoor arts installation The Moves Project. Brown Massey performs with Synthesis Aesthetics Project, Ariel Rivka Dance, Vessel, and Highland Soles. She holds a B.S. summa cum laude in Dance Performance from Skidmore College. www.annabrownmassey.com
Build a Bridge: Balloon Bridge
Légaré will construct a bridge of balloons that spans Broadway Plaza with the bold colors of The Work Office (TWO). The sculpture will promote both the agency’s and Légaré’s artwork in the form of an advertising artifice. Situated amongst a multitude of dense advertisements, the balloon arch will bring a touch of the county fair and folk aesthetic to the visual landscape.
Guillaume Légaré is a French-Canadian artist who lives and works in New York. He grew up near Québec city and studied visual arts at various schools in Canada and France. He graduated with a Master of Visual Arts in 2009 from Paris 1-La Sorbonne. His artistic practice has focused on the fictional relationships that may exist between objects and the environment. Légaré has realized a series of outdoor installations in various residencies by exploring the border of artistic expression between fiction and reality, truth and lies, illusion and figures of speech. www.guillaumelegare.com
Make a Regional Travel Guide: Hello from Times Canyon
Times Canyon is an imaginary space created by mapping the colors of the Grand Canyon’s geological strata onto the buildings in Times Square. In Times Canyon, man-made structures become forces of nature, chaos turns to quiet, layers of activity become layers of time. Visitors will see seven stereoscopic views of Times Canyon via a Viewmaster and be able to send a friend a postcard from Times Canyon.
Betsy Medvedovsky is a designer living in Brooklyn, NY. Newly graduated from the Communications Design MFA at Pratt, she’s currently a design intern at C-Lab, an architectural research lab. A lover of functional and practical design, she was startled and humbled when the simple question “What's the anti-Times Square?” turned into a full-fledged art piece.
Design a Poster: Welcome to Times Square, How Are You?
Nelson will create a genuine souvenir of an exact moment for visitors to Times Square. While most souvenirs sold in Times Square are anonymously made in China, Nixon will offer a homemade badge created on the spot bearing the visitor’s answer to the question “How are you?” imbedded in New York-specific ephemera, memorializing exactly how the visitor felt.
Lori is a Brooklyn-based, Utah-transplant who paints in a factory building in DUMBO. Her work, most often narrative oil on panel, tends toward a dark but sweet narrative. Frequently, Lori creates interactive work as well, endeavoring to surprise people with what it means to make art in New York. Conversation is integral in her interactive work of documenting personal experience. The public becomes collaborator in art projects when they least expect to.
Make a Regional Travel Guide: Seven Deadly Sins of Times Square
Schoellkopf’s maps will draw on previous maps of Times Square to include information and points of interest throughout the district’s varied history and will be available for smartphones and on the Web. Passersby will access the map on their phones via QR codes placed on signs around the area. A paired-down, take-away map will also be available.
Karen Schoellkopf works in many mediums including photography, writing, and site-specific installations. Previous projects have included a book project about catcalling, a series of abstract light photographs, and a gallery installation of red and yellow tape addressing the idea of home. A recurring thread is exploring that which is hidden, or unsaid, and ways of approaching these unspoken topics. She has an MFA in Photography from SVA, has been commissioned by the Brooklyn Arts Council, and showed work this February in “New Histories,” organized by the G-Train Salon.
Start an American Tradition: Ticker-Tape Step
During the 125th anniversary of the ticker-tape parade, Wengel will make a mini model of a ticker-tape parade by throwing ticker tape from a window in the Times Square District with the aim of celebrating pedestrians who happen to pass by. This scaled-down version of the parade is reflective of the economic times and creates a singular parade for each passerby. Nina Wengel is a Danish artist who works with art as a tool for healing by using color, light, dance, and sound for sitespecific works. Her recent works include “Colour Healing Copenhagen,” a performance light installation that aimed to cure the Danish seat of Parliament of its politically hostile view on foreigners. She approaches sensitive political issues with patience and sensitivity, using humor and a performative style connecting these themes to the use of art “as a positive healing source.” She holds a MFA from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, 2008.