Standard Operating Procedure
14 Jul - 25 Aug 2012
Curated by Piper Marshall
14 July - 25 August 2012
Gregory Parma Smith
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a program or set of instructions detailing every step of an end-oriented process and its "best practices." SOPs are found in institutional and performance-driven contexts: healthcare, education, industry, and the military. Simultaneously contingent and specialized, an SOP is set up as a means of quality control, to be applied when volume is crucial and costs are suppressed.
Today, SOPs are determining the conditions of everyday life. The need for a guiding logic has been extended from the professional to the personal realm. Self-enrichment literature and performance manuals (cookbooks, business plans, travel guides, diet fads, and “how-tos”) have emerged, instructing how to implement daily routines and encouraging automatic response as habit.
The prosaic tools crucial to quotidian existence—search engines, dating sites, and social networks—hinge upon mathematical algorithms. After tracking consumer habits—psychographic and behavioral variables—probability models assist in bombing us with targeted advertisements. These are vital applications. SOPs have reified everyday life and even love—in short, subjectivity as an abstract set of predictable maneuvers.
In this exhibition, we are invested in the contemporary, the framework governing conceptual art, and the system of logic grafted onto praxis. This in turn affects the mental capacity and physical ability to methodically complete daily operations—artistic pursuits or otherwise.
This exhibition brings together artists from different generations and backgrounds who engage SOPs: Tina Braegger, Antoine Catala, Ida Ekblad, Nikolas Gambaroff, Nicolas Guagnini, Yngve Holen, Alex Israel, Helen Marten, John Miller, Olivier Mosset, Amy O’Neill, Sean Paul, Carissa Rodriguez, Greg Parma Smith, Alan Uglow, and Hannah Weinberger. Their analysis of the SOP reconstitutes and renders visible its often-imperceptible economy. For if SOPs are omnipresent in aesthetics, what once was the domain of free activity, then the framework for viewing and reading has also been given in advance, requested to please not step outside the lines of the intended experience.
The summer group show, the mini-retrospective, the emerging artist, the re-emerging artist, the humanist, the poet, the dry intellectual—each one of these modes and categories is a strategy indivisible from a preconceived program that may as well come with a starter kit. Often SOPs are ascribed, without consent or mastery.
We are now assigned the task of completing the following mental exercise: how much of a choreographed system resides in a work of art? The main goal of Standard Operating Procedures turns labor over to the user. The conjecture and reasoning is yours.