Destroying the Cubicle

Film, 31. January 2017
By: John Hill

Photo: Screenshot

Late last year New York artist Jonathan Schipper installed a generic office space in Rice Gallery in Houston, Texas. Slowly and imperceptibly the cubicles and other office fixtures were destroyed via cables and a mechanical winch. A new film by Walley Films reveals the destruction.

Visitors to the gallery in early October 2016, when Cubicle opened, would have encountered the view above, where some slack cables within the fairly typical office space hinted at something awry. Those coming in the enusing months would have seen something like the image below, where the "office" appeared to be in the process of getting sucked into a black hole in the corner of the gallery.

Photo: Screenshot

Schnipper timed the winch – powerful enough to pull 45 tons – to run continuously yet slowly during gallery hours, about one millimeter per hour. A time-lapse video from a camera in the corner of the room revealed the two-month destruction, which could be interpreted as commentaries on the obsolescence of cubicles in the age of open-plan offices, the psychological entrapment of office spaces, and the need to consider if and how today's office environments will become tomorrow's debris.


artRice University Art GalleryJonathan-Schipper