Unemployment as Artwork by Cara Ober, published on October 3 on Hyperallergic
WASHINGTON, DC — In a tiny storefront in DC’s Shaw neighborhood, Paul Shortt grimaces as his gray dress pants rip along the seams. They’re clearly inadequate for his large, bearlike figure, but he loops a belt through and leaves the pants unbuttoned. As a metronome beats faster and faster, Shortt sighs and sweats as he pulls on more ill-fitting business casual clothing. His dress shirt makes ripping noises when he moves his arms. His sports jacket refuses to close. Shortt completes the exercise with a tiny clip-on tie, takes one last tragic glimpse in the mirror, and trudges out of the frame, presumably off to work. The four-minute looping video, titled “Tight Fit,” is a solid entrance into a solo exhibition that transforms the search for employment in the art world into a rueful, Kafkaesque experience, which any recent liberal arts graduate will tell you is, basically, reality.
Shortt’s solo exhibition Essentially Qualified at Pleasant Plains Workshop features video, sculpture, and a variety of interactive employment-based exercises, including “Intern as Artwork,” a performance by Corcoran student Michael Schiffer taking place on Saturdays. A large, official-looking poster explains the intern’s duties, including “Intern will spend his or her time searching for jobs and writing cover letters” and “The intern will greet and talk with gallery viewers about his or herself and the exhibition.” Despite a long list of instructions, the bespectacled student in professional attire was unfailingly genial, and happy to explain the interactive stations available for viewers.
To read the whole article at Hyperallergic, click here.
Paul Shortt: Essentially Qualified continues at Pleasant Plains Workshop (2608 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC) through October 18. The “Intern as Artwork” performance takes place on Saturdays in the gallery through October 11.