In her first solo exhibition, Gab Baez reflects on the connection between the innocent game of Musical Chairs and our lives as members of the modern-day rat race. Here, the artist uses the image of a chair as an elemental representation of being involved in an invisible, and yet overtly felt, competition inside the world of employment. “slow down they’re not out to get ya” becomes Baez’s declaration of finally owning her pursuits over the capitalist juncture schemes; this intersects with one’s motivation to work as an artist and to simultaneously sustain a stable livelihood to accommodate practical necessities.
Through several illustrations of chairs, Baez contemplates on her life as a gallery worker at many different points in her life. While many artists are aloof and are often unaware of what takes place in the business side of the arts, Baez compares its similarities to an office day job. Non-creative tasks pile each day: paperwork to be filled out; phone calls to be made; and email inquiries to be answered. In the end, however, a sense of fulfillment is experienced in achieving the most trivial of tasks.
The arrangement of chairs could also be telling. In the game of Musical Chairs, the number of seats are inadequate —one seat less of the total number of players. As the music plays, everyone walks around the chairs and then, each would finally sit on one chair as soon as the music stops. The game advances on the competitive nature of the players: following the rules of the game without question, those who hesitate may lose their chances of winning. Although there is another way to look at these chairs, when faced together, these chairs resemble a collaborative atmosphere: a place where the music plays without a pause, without manipulation, and with everyone properly seated. Baez takes into consideration the different experiences she had as gallery employee: there are places where you can feel inferior as a subordinate but there are also places where you can feel important as a colleague.
“slow down they’re not out to get ya” is a mantra to an empowerment that happens when we finally accept to ourselves the kind of compromises we can and we cannot make. The show places an emphasis on discerning a far more suited environment that would allow ourselves to ignore the music other people would play and would stop as they please. Here is a show that tells us that we can yield, carry our chairs away from the circles that force us to become restricted, and then, control the situation in our own terms.