Lexington (Virginia) Case Study and Office Residency, 2018

For two months in the summer of 2018, the ICS Office was installed in a storefront on Main Street in the small town of Lexington, VA. The space served as my art studio and was open to the public as an interactive art exhibition. The installation resembled a conventional office space with various artworks from past ICS Case Studies included. Staff meeting agendas, daily entries in the Office Log Book, and other evidence of the ICS operation became part of the installation.

The Office served as my art studio where I worked on the Lexington Case Study in which I used local news items from the year 1933 as prompts, following research trajectories to create a dossier of micro-histories that provide a look at ordinary lives in Lexington in that era. The research material was carefully organized and integrated into the ICS Office installation on the walls where visitors could view the findings. Because of the local connections, some visitors were able to contribute their own information to the study.

During regular Open Office Hours visitors were invited to learn about local history, contribute to the Lexington Case Study, rifle through ICS Office files, peruse records and research materials from past projects, participate in the Clew Registry, watch the ICS Infomercial, enjoy the “Joke of the Day” (taken from issues of the 1933 Rockbridge County News and presented on a sidewalk chalkboard in front of the office), and take tours of the ICS Office. The tours of the ICS Office varied as I adjusted the presentations for each visitor. During these informal performances, I acted in my role as the ICS Chronicler of Inklings, explaining the project and discussing the various aspects of ICS. Conversations in ICS installations may start with Clew Case Studies but tended to veer towards other topics such as visitors’ family histories, ideas about grappling with the inevitable obscurity that is the likely fate of all but a select few, and ways in which the very act of living—and all the micro-actions involved ----is an under-acknowledged effort towards resisting obscurity.

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Office, front view Clews News 1 Clews News 2 Office, 1933 Case Study Office, Clew Registry Office, student helpers Office, planning board Office, 1933 Case Study Office, two students working Office, explaining the case study Office, Labyrinth Joke of the Day, Grand Opening Joke of the Day, Open! Art and More! Joke of the Day, C'mon In! Joke of the Day, Only 2 Days Left Joke of the Day, Last Day Block Party, back Block Party, front Block Party, Clew Registry