27 MARCH – 25 APRIL 2021

Amalia Pica deals with systems of language and communication, social habitats and social interaction. The work REARRANGING THE CONFERENCE TABLE consists of 14 colorful tables which are grouped and rearranged daily, challenging the fixed hierarchy ingrained in corporate furniture. Pica investigates the office as a social structure. 

Offices are often characterized by typical dull furnishings. Conference tables are emblematic of this, but in contrast to conventional office furniture, Pica designed them in her typical formal language of geometric shapes and bold colored surfaces. This is intended to counteract the tedious everyday processes with something joyful. 

This visual principle is also present in the wall works, made of Formica on plywood, where she brings the tabletop to the wall in studies that explore the possibilities of the choreography of the tables. The geometric figures further demonstrate Pica's affair with Concrete Art. In contrast to their European counterpart, the movement in South America, including in the artist's home country, Argentina, was explicitly political. The works there were always inherent of the desire for new social visions.

The tables are rearranged daily, their colors and shapes spreading out and flowing back reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The artist captures the office as a social space in which many people spend a large part of their time. Since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, this social structure disappeared for many from one day to the next. Working from home suddenly disrupts familiar routines, and well-rehearsed communication channels had to be completely rethought. Pica reflects this reorganization in the performative act of moving tables. In the background of the exhibition, as its soundtrack, office-sounds are played, which were downloaded from the Internet to simulate everyday office life at home: During the week, you can hear loud, busy voices; on weekends and during lunch breaks, there is just the whirring of the servers. The tape recordings are complemented with the sounds from the gallery staff's offices, which can be heard all the way up into the exhibition space due to the special architecture of St. Agnes.

This audio piece as well as the video REHEARSING THE CONFERENCE TABLE was made in collaboration with Mexican film maker Rafael Ortega.

When conventional systems are significantly challenged, in this case triggered by a global crisis, the question of their justification arises. How relevant is the model of the office cube in times of modern communication technology? This questioning of traditional communication and work structures gives Pica's work particular relevance in the current situation.

JOY IN PAPERWORK is, complementary to this, the result of Pica's preoccupation with bureaucracy, which is also inspired by personal experiences related to her naturalization to Great Britain. Inherently, bureaucratic systems are attempts to convey order and transparency through a precise set of rules. However, through mismanagement or over time, these systems are often complicated and oppressive.

In the bureaucratic jungle, special symbols are assigned a special role. A particularly important instrument for expressing official power is the stamp, whose specific signs often mercilessly decide the weal and woe of an application. The artist herself had this experience, whose many stamps in her passport from countless trips thwarted her first application for British citizenship. As a result, in her renewed application process, she did not leave Britain, a travel restriction that suddenly became a reality for people all over the world during the pandemic. During her period of non-travel, Pica began collecting various stamps from all over the world and used them as instruments for her graphic works. She explores the role that such symbols and instruments play in structuring processes, and in particular the power we assign to them. By using them outside their traditional system, Pica deprives these signs of bureaucratic communication of their power. The patterns on the paper thus become new systems of order and coding, of finding pleasure and ultimately offer an escapist alternative.

© Images Roman März