Friday Feb 12, 6-10pm
CAD West


What do Chicagoans need in the dead of winter? Someone who not only wants to hear their weather-related gripes but is also capable of putting said tirades into official language. Because bureaucracy is inevitable and the weather is objectionable, the Society of Smallness brings you Documents Bureau (The Climatic Cathartic Confessions Desk), a carnivalesque, clerkish occasion to help you shake off seasonal affective disorder. Need a dibs permit? Want to summon a rescue dog? Stop by Documents Bureau at Chicago Art Department where clerks will type it and stamp it.


Documents Bureau exploits our familiarity with bureaucracy and turns it into an opportunity for creativity and play. A cast of performers embodying office workers collaborates with the public to produce official-looking documents that attest to all the small, personal, and mundane goings-on of daily life.

Documents Bureau is a playful, critical arena for questioning our daily interactions. Participants’ universal experiences with daily business transactions become a lingua franca for improvisation and enable instances of the carnivalesque (Bakhtin) such as role reversals, the coming together of unlikely people, and temporary reversals of the social order. Typical forms—certificates, licenses, and affidavits—serve as vehicles for warm, interpersonal, and meaningful exchanges.


Documents Bureau is a project of the Society of Smallness, a collective of enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds exploring the potential for small actions to generate creative opportunities for everyone.


Taylor Hokanson Silicone Rubber, Electronics 8″ x 6′ x 2′ 2005 – ongoing

We take the path of most resistance. Along with our talented typists, Documents Bureau will also feature Taylor Hokanson’s Sledgehammer Keyboard. Come and pound out your message!

From mineral pigments used in the caves of Lascaux to laser-bonded toner on mass-manufactured paper, technological advances have democratized the process of communicating. Yet perhaps something is lost or forgotten when its mediums become too facile. While it has been to the great benefit of civilization to conquer impediments to communication on a personal and global scale, the seemingly transparent methods we use today are anything but. To paraphrase Andrew Keen’s argument in The Cult of the Amateur, the easier it is to do something, the easier it is to do it wrong.
SHKB imposes (or re-imposes) physical difficulty on the process of writing, burdening the author-user with a feat of exertion in order to produce even a concise message. Writing is hard work; what is usually an instantaneous and anonymous act—typing on a computer—becomes a labored performance in a public setting. In enforcing layers of arduousness and sometimes frustration upon the user, SHKB requires the operator to reevaluate his or her relationship with common technological mediators that are often taken for granted.

February 12, 6-9pm, CAD West
1932 South Halsted #101
Personnel: Lisette Bustamante, Hanna Chang, Caitlin Devitt, Nando Espinosa Herrera, Jack Gruszczynski, Henry Harris, Allison Kelly, Karolina Kowalczyk, Marcos Herrera, Marianne Joyce, Chris Molina, Paul Durica, Daniela Perez, Victoria Rodriguez, Matt Stone, and Georgina Valverde


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