One of the works that Cedric Tai hopes you have received is a postcard stating “I’m handing you a postcard”. This is the entrance to the show, asking the audience to consider the “why of production as opposed to the what” (Gillick, Liam. The Good of Work. 2009).
The west side of the gallery is a reconstruction of the artists’ studio/office complete with in process works. Tai posits that while artists attempt to make work that questions and mirrors reality, our careers do not provide an alternative to working within a neoliberal structure with its ceaseless demands. The artist is the ideal since every moment is capitalized on and every opportunity is seized.
Upon returning to Detroit from completing an MFA in Glasgow in 2013, Tai has become concerned with sentiments such as “Detroit Hustles Harder” and the increased amount of arts funding geared towards socially engaged work. Both assume the need for individuals to fill in the gaps left by diminishing social services. The exhibition title pulls from what author Dan Ariely expresses in Predictably Irrational, that our decision-making is clouded by an illusion of “freedom of choice.” Although we are invited to actively participate in the creation of meaning, it is more likely that we are making choices within a designed system that highly influences our decisions. To what degree are we autonomous to these overarching structures?
These scenarios play out differently in each space revealing anxiety in both restructuring and rejecting the barriers of artwork in a gallery context. The artist contends that we are not simply stuck in a loop. We already act out concepts that we have been told to be suspicious of, from anarchy to agnosticism: sharing resources, being a hermit, stealing time from employers, etc. Every day people find ways to resist work in order to make space for how we want to play or be challenged.