Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the institutional table

I've always liked Lynne Cohen's pictures of empty institutional spaces - I like the really empty ones even better than those that are inhabited by the half-lives of crash text dummies and mannequins. It always seems as though something bad - and probably violent - is about to happen in them.

Nothing bad, I hope, is about to happen here - even though the pulled-together tables do look somewhat like a medical operating surface. Rather, nothing is happening at all - a different kind of dread, when it's 4.15, the tables are in the Plangere Writing Center, and one's Departmental Welcome Party - which, as Chair, I'm hosting - is due to kick off in fifteen minutes time. Yet the arrival of wine and soda and cheese and chips and salsa - and then people - is not the kind of activity that this room seems to be inviting, and it has this in common with Cohen's interiors: it's menacing in its very blandness. [The tension, thankfully, was relieved about fifteen seconds later - and the party was up and running dead on schedule. Phew.]

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