Article on gender dynamics in 'new offices' inspires international art installation

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A joint article about the gender dynamics in open plan offices written by Dr Alison Hirst, Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr Christina Schwabenland, University of Bedfordshire, has inspired artist Sondra Perry to create a video installation project commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa), Ohio, USA.

Sondra Perry’s project is titled A Terrible Thing, and whilst developing the project, the artist came across Dr Hirst and Dr Schwabenland’s work. The researchers were then contacted by moCa to grant permission to reprint their article in the upcoming catalogue.

Following the initial exhibition in moCa from April to August 2019, A Terrible Thing is now displayed in Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark, until March 2020. Dr Schwabenland and Dr Hirst attended the private viewing last month.

Dr Alison Hirst, Director of Research Students at Anglia Ruskin University said: “A Terrible Thing is a haunting and unsettling piece of work. It unpeels the layers of history that lie underneath the spaces we occupy every day, including the most mundane office buildings.”

Dr Christina Schwabenland, Reader in Strategy and Human Resource Management at the University of Bedfordshire, added: “We were so excited to see how our article was interpreted by Sondra and transformed into this very exciting art work. This is an amazing example of the impact of research!”

In the opening presentation, Courtenay Finn, the curator of the exhibition, said Sondra Perry uses the architecture of moCa but also of Kunsthal Aarhus to probe questions about “behind the scenes actions of the employees who work at the museum. The film really goes back and forth between redlining and gentrification, the construction of the city of Cleveland, the construction of the museum building, but also the lives of the people who work in the museum, how they feel about occupying that space, how they negotiate one another and their own history.”

The original research article, published in May 2018, has been cited in more than 60 publications including the Washington Post, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Sydney Morning Herald, and online versions of the Times, Telegraph and HR Digest. It reached over 10m people in just the first two months of its publication.

To find out more about Sondra Perry’s work visit her website, here.

 

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