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Workday

Sarah Berkeley is working. She is wearing the typical office outfit for it: skirt, blouse, jacket, heels. But this is far from a desk job. She is working, on her knees, clawing at the ground.

Sarah Berkley RP15 Joseph Ravens

Sarah is working on a hill. It’s a grassy knoll above the expressway. There is a steady breeze from the passing cars, it ruffles her short blond hair. She claws at the ground, pulling out grass. The clumps of grass turn to handfuls of dirt. Sarah is digging.

Sarah is digging. She has pulled one of her high heels off and is using it as a tool. It works, but slowly. The heel scrapes the earth, removes slow minute layers. Carves scrapey trenches of hole. The rest of the shoe bends and flaps under pressure. It’s not the ideal tool for digging a hole. It requires extra work.

And Sarah is working, without a trace of irony, parody or desperation. She is genuinely, genuinely, genuinely, digging a hole with her high-heeled shoe. She sticks her head in the hole.

The breeze billows fast and hard off the expressway. At some point it forces her away from her work and into the shelter of the Rapid Pulse Hub for warmth and rest. Sarah is working smart and hard, not stupid.

She returns and sticks her head in the hole. Her arms are perched on either side of her head, butt in the air, as if she were both looking and hiding. The cars and trucks scream by. Sarah keeps her head in the hole. She is working.

The composition could read overtly as an easy critique of capitalism: office worker, participant in a dominant structure, attempting to escape/deny the reality/implications of the system. But again, there is no parody in Berkeley’s work. She is genuinely, genuinely, genuinely, sticking her head in a hole. To where the escape becomes a kind of rest, a kind of comfort, a kind of silent gratitude, an almost-worship of the ground she has just torn apart. Sarah’s working on driving her viewed-and-judged body deeper into the earth.


photo by Joseph Ravens
Meghan Moe Beitiks is an artist and researcher working with associations and disassociations of culture/nature/structure. She received her BA in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her MFA in Performance Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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