Buddy System


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View of an installation in a gallery room. On the back wall there are double emergency exit doors and
        windows which run the entire length along the top. A Rutgers University felt
        pennant attached to a wooden pole taped to the wall is in front of the windows.
        The lower halves of the walls are painted a slightly different shade of white as the rest of the walls.
        There is 3-inch wide painted black trim along the bottom of the walls and the door frames. Hanging on the left
        and right walls are two small rectangular works.
Another view of the gallery room. On the right are the double exit doors.
        The back wall is divided by a doorway, through which other gallery rooms and artworks are visible.
        The bottom half of the right wall is painted
        a slightly different shade of white as the rest of the walls. There is
        also black trim along the bottom of the wall and the door frame.
        The bottom half of the left wall is painted red, and has black trim just along the door frame. There is a wooden bench
        against the red wall.
A corner view of the gallery room. There is a doorway in the corner.
        The bottom half of the right wall is painted red with a wooden bench in front of it.
        The bottom half of the left wall is painted a slightly different shade of white as the rest of the walls, and has black trim on the bottom.
        There is a bulletin board on the wall.

Buddy System mimics the public spaces in Civic Square Building, which houses Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts. For So Much Better Than We Were, the walls were patched, repaired and painted using the same shade of white as in the building’s public hallways, with the same black trim, and accent wall of Rutgers’ official color, Scarlet Red.

The repair work was a nearly invisible but integral part to set the conditions for the painting and display of the other work. This highlights the hidden, devalued labor within gallery or institutional spaces, such as custodial, janitorial and maintenance. And is also analogous to the labor disabled people do to set the conditions for their existence or appearance in a (public) space. This has much in common with other forms of unwaged labor, which increasingly as it pertains to disability, is largely administrative navigation of bureaucratic systems.

The work stopped in a straight line at my perpetually-seated height (51 inches), dividing the walls as areas of care or attention, and neglect. The floor was swept, washed, and shined, but nothing was altered above the division line, including the lighting. The hanging of the other works on top of the mural bypassed traditional gallery guidelines which stipulate work ought to rest at the eye-level of the average standing viewer, guidelines which also prescribe what constitutes the average viewer.

The title Buddy System is sourced from Rutgers University Institutional Planning’s official policy on the “Evacuation of Individuals with Physical Disabilities.” The buddy system is described there as:

During the first week of classes or employment, make acquaintances with fellow students, residents, class members, or office workers. Inform them of any special assistance that may be required in the event of a fire alarm. [...] When the fire alarm sounds, the ‘Buddy’ (or assistant) will make sure of the location of the person with a disability, then go outside and inform emergency personnel that a person in that location needs assistance in leaving the building. Emergency personnel will then enter the building and evacuate that person.

The policy advises against the very collective responsibility and caring relationship the term suggests. The plan tamps down the reciprocal nature of relationships as though the roles of helper and helpee are fixed and defined by absence or presence of disability. In actuality, these roles are flexible and changeable, as disability is in itself. One does not need to be disabled to require help. Further troubling, the policy suggests a disabled person needs to be liked, or have some kind of mutually positive relationship with another person, in order to receive, in this case, life-saving assistance.

Another corner view of the gallery room. There is black painted trim along the bottom of the walls.
        On the right wall is a bulletin board. On the left wall is an ipad on top of
        a Rutgers University charging station. The spotlights on the ceiling are on and pointed in
        various directions.
Another corner view of the gallery room. There is black painted trim along the bottom of the walls.
        There are windows at the top of the left wall. In front of the windows
        is a Rutgers felt pennant flag on wooden dowels taped together to form a pole. The pole is taped to the wall.
        On the right wall there is a small photograph in a wooden frame.
Black acrylic sign with a white arrow pointing to the left,
        used by Rutgers University in the Civic Square Building for way-finding and signifying
        emergency procedures such as fire-rated stairwells. Screen-printed with light gray text reading: I am on this floor right now.
        In case of fire or other emergency I will attempt to seek refuge.
        As you exit, please let emergency personnel know I am in here.
        Your buddy, Chloe.

Buddy System (Sign)
silkscreen on found acrylic sign
11 inches x 9 inches

Printed and embossed text in English, English Braille, and Spanish
        on vin-tak bulletin board used by Rutgers University.
        Text is proposed instructions for evacuting the building, and an
        illustration in the style of ISO-graphics of a person using a powerchair,
        a person of short stature holding a
        dog wearing a harness, and a taller upright person, fleeing down a
        ramp away from flames. There is a sticker on the lower right corner of aluminum frame of the bulletin board.

Buddy System (Instructions)
prints on vin-tak bulletin board, push-pins, sticker label
34 inches x 24 inches

Photo in a white wooden frame. Photo depicts a blue metal fire-rating
        medallion from Eggers Industries in Neenah, Wisconsin found on the side
        of a wooden door near the gallery space in the Civic Square Building.
        the medallion designates that when this door is closed, it
        provides a barrier to smoke and fire for 1 hour. The photo is rotated
        so that the medallion appears horizontal instead of vertical as it exists in real life.
        Next to the framed photo is a label on the wall reading: Chloe Crawford,
        MFA 2020, Fire Door, 2020, Photo. This piece mimics how student artwork
        is displayed in CSB's public hallways.

Buddy System (Photo)
photo in wooden frame, sticker label
14 inches x 11 inches