Coat Check, 2007

Coat Check_2_webCoat Check, 2007
Pass it On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture, A+D Gallery of Columbia College, Chicago, IL

For its contribution to DIY, Material Exchange offered not an artwork or an informational display, but a service. In the spirit of D.I.Y.-labeled alternatives to mainstream spheres such as those of music, urban farming, or political punditry, Material Exchange’s coat check was a fully functioning facility within the gallery, operating without any intervention from, or dependence upon, the established structures of the gallery. The coat check functioned in the spirit of other established DIY communities: decisions were not governed by the profit motive, labor was be voluntary, and rewards equally shared. Material Exchange provided all necessary infrastructures for the operation of the coat check, such as coat racks, cubbies, claim tickets, service counter, partition walls, and attendants. A sign above the counter and an explanatory card on the counter alerted gallery goers to our services offered, our hours of operation, our commitment to providing DIY alternatives to mainstream coat checks, and our policy on tipping (tips welcome — not required, and cash discouraged- we prefer recipes, slogans, pamphlets, or snacks). Material Exchange worked with collaborators for the purposes of running the coat check. While on duty, collaborators amused themselves by trying on checked articles and photographing themselves, and slipping surreptitious how-to pamphlets on miscellaneous DIY activities into pockets, bags, and purses. The decision of whether to engage in these activities was spontaneous, and up to the discretion of the collaborator on duty. Like a Greek oracle, one cannot know if the coat check attendant will speak, or what the message might be.