philadelphia

Pepón Osorio

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

After completing a three-year volunteer residency at Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, Pepón Osorio elaborately reconstructed its offices in the galleries of the ICA. Face to Face (all works 2004), one of three installations shown here, was assembled from re-created materials from the DHS—desks full of case histories, computer terminals, and sundry office supplies. Claustrophobic and windowless, it made one feel as though lost inside a real government bureaucracy, which metes out death by drab repetition and administrative protocol. Signs of the struggle with dehumanization were everywhere: Caged in a large steel-wire bin piled up with the possessions of a client family, a video narrated the mother’s harrowing story of her suicidal son, juxtaposed with footage of him as a once-happy toddler. Reproduced family photos and inspirational posters taped to the walls above desks

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