Public Pedagogy of Everyday Objects & Spaces: Table Talk
Posted on January 29, 2013
Deodorant. It’s a western norm. I wear deodorant and antiperspirant to avoid the giant, armpit rings and smell that comes with daily activity. It’s part of our cultural conventions. Cleanliness, I have been told, is next to godliness. At what price this cleanliness? According to EGW’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database:
- Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
- Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
- Developmental/reproductive toxicity
WTF! Although the product has a relatively low score and is a moderate hazard risk, what exactly are we putting in and on our bodies? Alright. Something that I learned from my last job was that “the poison is the dose.” There’s a difference between exposure and dose. And that everything is a poison.
All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.
What does it mean? All things in moderation? It’s tough because water can kill you. Too much salt can kill you, even though it is an essential nutrient. We don’t know until we know and that is usually much later. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. Cheese. Bacon. No cheese or bacon?
Based on the works of Kerry James Marshall, Pepón Osorio, and Andrea Zittel, I see home as a vessel that works within and against conventions. It has sacred spaces and also feeds into voyeurism and the social expectations of house, class, status, and neighborhood. Although it is mine, it is one part of many. Although it is my inner place to define, it is also a manifestation of contradiction. It is part expression, part rejection, part conformity. Zittel talks about her influences in raising animals and her work with breeding units–everything needed for living. House or home both supports and restricts living. I have everything I need to sustain my modern life within the walls of my home, yet it also confines in terms of removal of self from community. I am one part of many, but it is also an island. A place where for some time, the goat path that I walked was an unending cycle of traveling from home to work and back again. As Osorio points out, you need to reflect and confront yourself. It reminds me of the panopticon and self-regulating society from A ED 812. All the elements are there for me to act accordingly for my neighbors, township, county, state, and country–the all seeing eye is around me.
Art Room Table
The personal experiences of being around a table are many. It ranges from a table for eating, a coffee table, a drawing table to a classroom table. In terms of an art room table in a typical school, the experience for me is mixed. The individuals at the table in a classroom have no choice, without encouragement, to not sit at this table and make art. Although the table is marked and used, it is surrounded by office chairs which require the occupant to sit there content and confined. The occupants are to be good little girls and boys behaving at the table making art. It is a remnant of learning to read and write and in my opinion not conducive to making art. It enforces obedience and quiet. It doesn’t involve the whole body. The body becomes complicit as the mind tries to express itself. I have no doubt that those involved are doing the best with what they have within the confines of their school. I have no doubt that there are good intentions and that there have been and will be many milestones with young people and making art at a table similar to this table. I just want to point out the conventions of this table and how it relates to the school system as a whole and the difference between learning the alphabet and creating art. To me this table, with others at the table, is confinement. The presence of the office chairs also says to me that these individuals are to be sedentary for long periods of time creating art. The assembly line of the industrial age has infiltrated our schools. Be good and color in the lines please.
Art Table – Update
So let me get back on topic and share personal experiences with a table similar to the one from the art room photo. If I have to name a table like the one pictured above, I’d call it “Big Eddie.” Big Eddie has been around for a while and has seen plenty of use. He’s dirty, chipped, a little banged up, and beautifully messy. I like that about Big Eddie. I’ve had good and bad experiences around a table like the one in the photo. At times it can be crowded both with people and materials and can create some frustration and anxiety if I didn’t have enough room, if someone spilled water or paint, or if the actions of others causes the table to move around and shake. The good things about a table like Big Eddie is the opportunity for shared experiences and collaboration where I’ve worked on things together with others at the table. We either worked together on the same thing or were assigned to make and create components of a larger whole. Good times. In contrast I think about the drafting and design tables that I used in high school. These tables were individual, taller, adjustable, and intimate. If you’re doing precision line work, I can see how this sort of table would be better than Big Eddie.