My interdisciplinary work, which includes sculpture, photography, installation, drawing, and sound, presents a critique of corporate bureaucracy. The objects and materials incorporated, such as office plants, furniture or carpeting, are typically found within the setting of the office space. In their institutional habitat, their sole purpose is to organize human activity, to maximize efficiency, maintain order and aid in the imposition of a hierarchical system of control. What happens though, if said objects refuse to conform to their standard mode of operation?
In my photographs and installations, objects are stripped of their original function and activated through interventions, such as shifts in scale, material transformations, and re-contextualization. Installed in space, they mimic the clean, cold language of corporate display. In their subtle gestures of non-conformity however, they deviate from business as usual and enter the gray area between defiance and failure, transgression and pathos. Instead of promoting an efficient work-flow, their disruptiveness destabilises any belief in the authority and inevitability of an otherwise unyielding bureaucratic system.
My most recent work further explores the parallels between bureaucracy and fascism via the appropriation of images from archives of office furniture, fascist architecture, and the history of Nazi Germany. Shared formal characteristics between juxtaposed sets of images are emphasised, in order to allude to efficiency, rationalisation, and a formal, rule-based, hierarchical structure, while their origin, and meaning is purposefully obscured. As a result, fluid associations between disparate narratives are created, while others are cast into doubt. This, in turn, generates a situation of ontological uncertainty that aims to ask questions about the existence of an absolute truth.
Sandra Erbacher is a German artist living and working in New Jersey and New York. She has earned her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2014) and her BFA from Camberwell College of Art, London (2009). She also holds a BA and MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Erbacher has exhibited nationally and internationally, at Spring/ Break NYC, Grin Providence, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Parisian Laundry, Montreal, Space, Portland, Umbrella Gallery, Leeds, and Five Years, London.
She has participated in the 2017-18 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency and the 2015 NARS Foundation Residency. She is the recipient of the 2014 Chazen Prize to an Outstanding MFA Student, a University of Wisconsin fellowship and the Blink Grant for Public Art 2013.
The LES Studio Program is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.