Base Kamp artists were invited to install an exhibition in the lobby of the Hamilton auditorium of the University of the Arts. The exhibition consisted of 192 6x8” framed textual images arranged in blocks. Each framed textual image contained the information for a single graduate school, and was arranged in alphabetical order.
Above the clusters of frames there sat a single large clock. All of the mounted clocks were set to the same time.In the center of the two sides of the room were arrangements of rectangular tables and chairs. On each table were two hanging folders which contained brochures for all of the MFA programs in the United States, and a questionnaire intended for the University of the Arts students.
This exhibition is a response to the Deborah Solomon article, which was published in the summer of 1999. In this article Solomon claimed that “Young artists today have something in common with doctors and lawyers: they need to be academically certified. A Master of Fine Arts degree has become an essential credential.” We took the opportunity of having a high-traffic space for undergraduate art students to gather some raw empirical data to test and evaluate if Solomon’s claim is a widely held assumption.
We also wanted to provide an interactive service for the students, by supplying them with all of the information that they would need when seeking out the appropriate graduate school. The desks, folders, and textual information were meant to be utilized, and the security guards were asked to encourage the students to handle the installation. Since prospective students had to pass through the lobby on their way to the admissions office, the installation caused a bit of inter-office strife.
Students would examine the information on the walls, and refer to the hanging folders. With this information in mind, they filled out the questionnaire. In order to solicit more extensive interaction with the test subjects, several members of the Base Kamp set up an information table where they gave out candy to every willing participant. The clocks were employed to invoke a visual metaphor about the dire circumstance of their future oppurtunities being diminished by the passing of time.