Kevin B. Chen
Susan O'Malley
Plaques, 2011
Series of 24 plastic engraved plaques located throughout the gallery and the building

“I am naturally seduced by language that expresses sheer optimism. I can't help it. For this exhibition, however, I had fun playing with language tinged with a bit of uncertainty and tension as well. Plaques is a series of simple gray and white engraved text placards that are installed in the gallery and spill out into unexpected spaces in the 5M building. You've probably seen similar plaques in an office building directing you to the lobby area; or on the door of your dentist with her name engraved on it. I love the familiarity and authority of these signs. You really want to believe them. Several of the texts on the plaques reference "found" phrases and concepts I came across on the websites of 5M organizations. This language is bursting with the sense of possibility – whether business, social, physical or artistic. For me, this kind of optimism feels like familiar territory.

I'm a fan of mirroring, repeating what someone says as a way to acknowledge that you are in fact listening. Hopefully some of the placards will do this. I hope the language actually feels familiar to the workers, clients, and visitors as they navigate the building. I hope people feel acknowledged by some of the text I incorporated and repeat through the space. But I also am really interested in what will happen when these phrases along with phrases of my own invention are removed from their original context and physically occupy a space, a hallway, a foyer, or a door.” – Susan O’Malley

In Other Words

February 1 - March 24, 2012
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis
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