Personnel 2, 2002
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Created for the traveling group exhibition, Indivisuals
As with many Canadian museums, the remote location of the Mendel Art Gallery belied the sophistication of its staff and its connection to the international art community while reinforcing its role as a local and regional center of art and culture. Disagreements about how best to serve these disparate communities arose among staff members as well as among the museum’s supporters. In this context it seemed necessary to develop a project that could engage the energies of the entire staff as well as to attract the interest and curiosity of Mendel Art Gallery’s public.
The Mendel staff agreed to be videotaped for three days as they went about their work at the museum: the first day everyone dressed up — the women in gowns and party clothes, the men in tuxedos and dress suits; the second day everyone wore pajamas, nightgowns, robes and slippers while on the third day everyone dressed in his or her “normal” work clothes. For the installation, two single channel videos were put together from this three day period and projected in the galleries just adjacent to the museum’s offices.
One video was a collage in which each staff member’s video image was divided into three parts: the top (head and shoulders) section was taken from dress up day, the middle (torso) from “everyday clothes” day and the bottom (legs) from pajama/nightgown day.
The other video used floor plans of the museum as a framing device through which to show the many simultaneous activities of the staff. One sequence shows the preparer in his workroom wearing tails and top hat. Another shows the soon to be departing director in his office discussing one of his farewell gifts, a bouquet of flowers.