One of the strangest part-time jobs I ever had was surveilling an art installation in a blue-chip gallery in the western parts of the city. I would arrive there at 10.45 and get dressed in my full black suit. The gallerist was obsessed with lookalikes and I’d been hired because I looked just like someone else. She wouldn’t tell me who. It was ridiculous. She’d just unfavorably look over at me whenever I’d arrive. “Get dressed darling”, she’d say and I’d slide into the straitjacket of the day.
You can always tell when affirmative language has been hijacked. It’s like the vowels have gotten drunk in some outcast place of the city, and then crawled back to the bright light, asking for permission to never go stray again. That’s how you become robotic. You ask for permission to never fuck up again. In order to receive that permission you need to sacrifice. I’m not sure what was with this woman but she paid my bills and she enjoyed dressing me up like her little mannequin. She never asked any personal questions, took absolutely no interest in me as a person, and smiled mechanically whenever I answered a question of hers with more than a syllable. For three months I guarded an installation in her gallery. It wasn’t like I was her gallerina, or assistant of any kind, I was profoundly remote from any kind of intellectual property the gallery solicited. I was just there, in the white cube corner locale with its wide windows exposed to the side-street of the fanciest high-street there possibly was, at least in my bank of knowledge.
For a solid 8 hours I would walk around the art installation in the middle of the space. It was a mini-version of the gallery, with glass windows and with a plush-sculpture of another janitor overseeing the space. The plush-janitor had been squeezed into the same uniform I’d been made to wear but wore a bunny head and angel-wings. So much for the lookalike. In hindsight I find my own role in the piece ultimately perturbing. But at that time I just didn’t care. When you’re part of a crew - I mean whatever that means to you - like you know your place – wherever that is for you – all other places just come off as obsolete. Like being in love. Your sight gets smudged for better or worse.
People would enter and I would greet them, tell them some words about the exhibition, and ask them to step into the simulation once they felt ready. Within the cube they received some VR-helmets that kept them occupied for approximately 40 minutes. During that time I would just stand at some place in the gallery, often with my hands interlaced, lightly resting on my sacrum bone, looking at the people walking by on the outside.