Hidden in the maze of streets that connect Kennington and Vauxhall, you will find a white building with a grey banner; on it, pixelised figures perform pixelised actions.
Next to the exhibition poster, the door, serving as a rabbit hole to a world of micro- and macro- management, monitored spaces, white lab coats, black suits and jammed typewritters.
All I see is the Management by Gasworks is a really interesting cross between sociological research and artistic practice; curated by Antonia Blocker, Rober Leckie and Helena Vilalta, it serves as a starting point in rethinking the concept and application of management.
A very interesting paradigm that runs throughout the exhibition is the unclear boundaries between life and work, as well as the ones between personal and professional development. Can you manage personal aspirations? Create dreams? Are you managing the person or the behaviour? Are we as individuals managed from ourselves and others, or are we conditioned to understand social relationships? Taking management as a notion instead of a word, the subject is explored in education, life, gender, class, race and social interaction.
I really enjoyed Pauline Boudry’s and Renate Lorenz’s Normal Work, with the underlying critique on the concept of normality, and the creation of roles as social disguises. Closely linked to chalenging norms, Eulalia’s Discriminacio de la Donna is looking at gender under confinement.
There is a large focus on the educational side of management, from the surroundings, design and architecture (Amy Feneck’s Government Workers) to the the links between self and experience (Darcy Lange’s Work Studies in Schools). NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is also examined at Filipa Cesar’s Rapport, focusing on the management of the self, originally derived from external sources (trainer, group), and then maintained by internal ones (self).
It is extremely interesting to observe Allan Sekulla’s School is a Factory, and the narrative of the student as the employee, repositioning education’s purpose to be the transferal of business skills (instead of life lessons).
I was especially mesmerised (and a bit fooled) from Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s work; fascinated, I watched the film until the end, convinced it was true. However, I was shocked to think that in our times, such an absurd action would seem plausible (after the lengths of contemporary reality TV, everything seems plausible!).
My only reservation was the implicit demonisation of management that inevitably comes with materials and art forms like this. I think there are two main types of managers: the manager as a superior (authority); and the manager as an example/perspective (guidance). How one tell the difference? Compliment them on their success: the first one will reply thank you; the second will thank their team. I think it is temptingly easy to see everyone as David Brent clones, and forget that there are managers that truly care about their team and the collective end goal; that do not do management by numbers, but by people; that are not managers, but leaders.
Having said that, this exhibition can not be faulted on this account, and it proved it with an amazing schedule of events, including a talk by Peter Fleming on The Managed Heart, as well as an NLP participatory workshop by Lee Robinson.
Unfortunately, the exhibition ends on 11/12/2011, so make sure you manage your time right, and colour code it in your schedule as unmissable (probably red then!).
Looking forward to more Gasworks gems!