Collage Office is a participatory project that took place from March 23 – May 11, 2019 at The Franklin, in Chicago. Gallery visitors engaged with artists as they worked, receiving an artwork in exchange for a pay as you wish donation. This event was the third and most elaborate iteration of “Collage on Demand” a project done twice before by Melissa Oresky, in which she moved a portion of her studio into a gallery space and made collages for participants. The collages were then given to the participants, who were asked to make a charitable donation in exchange.
In partnership with designer Alice J. Lee, Oresky and a program of rotating “associates,” turned the Franklin into a studio/office and a collaborative platform where they created work for clients during set hours. Each artist engaged the client through their own making process, creating unique interactions and experiences, altering the space and adding to the archive of the project.
Collage Office gleefully co-opts conventions of office decor and entrepreneurship, implementing design and marketing strategies to frame the project. Donations made in exchange for artwork were directed to two causes chosen collectively by the artists: A Long Walk Home (70%) and The Franklin(30%).
Collage Office poses questions about how artistic labor is experienced and valued. How is it like or not like other professions such as therapist, lawyer, craftsperson, or repair person? Can a gift economy be cultivated within a culture that values art as a commodity? The artist and visitor participate together in a transaction that is both personal and professional, addressing the exchange values surrounding artistic production.