What Can the Object Do?

A Group Exhibition at The Hand

601 Wilson Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Opening February 11, 2017, 6-9pm

Destroyed Coins

Kirby Mages

In a desperate moment of unemployment in 2014, I caved and took a desk job. I had tried retail and service - what was left? The desk job. The office was called Media Monkeybiz. With a name like that do I even bother describing the office layout? Imagine a catalogue of office furniture, or the clearance page of an office furniture website. If you can picture the objects on the page or screen, you know the kind of oppression I was confronted with on a daily basis. How terrible it is for me to even ask you to conjure those images. I feel sorry for us all that we are able to do so. 

The one surprising element of character in the office space was a collection of monkeys strewn about in various places. Some stuffed, some ceramic, some just images of monkeys on gift bags hanging precariously from a window opener or propped against the wall in the corner of the owner’s glass-encased office. 

About a week into the job, said owner came over to me during my lunch break to check in and see how I was liking the job, the office, etc. Here’s what I remember from that conversation: I pointed out his collection of monkeys. He asked me if I collected anything. I told him I collected many things. Then he asked me what kinds of things. “I collect destroyed coins.” He looked baffled, maybe even a little disturbed. “Destroyed coins?” “Yeah, I like to find coins, usually on the street, that have been destroyed to a point where they no longer look like money.” 

The next week I was promoted and was given a slight pay raise. No one talked in my department and we all had individual, staggered lunch breaks throughout the day. The office quickly expanded and we moved next door to a larger space. More furniture was brought in -- ergonomic chairs with plastic frames and casters, flat screen TVs, fake plants. A new woman was hired. 

Every night we were the last two people in the office. One night we started discussing our salaries and it turned out she was getting paid significantly more than me for the same job. When I brought it up with the biz owner the next day and demanded a raise, he said, “I feel like I’m being cornered.” He also made sure to tell me, in case I wasn’t aware, that what he did was legal. I told him, “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.” 

After a long back and forth I received my equal pay and reparations for the past months of inequities. A few months later I discovered the Instagram account of another guy at the biz who was posting voyeuristic, lascivious pictures of women in the office. Shortly after that I quit and vowed to never work for a man again. The Instagram account was deleted and I was told that the biz owner went around telling everyone at the office to never mention my name.