Joy in Paperwork 342, 2015
ink on paper
29.7 x 21 cm
[from the pressrelease]
The series Joy in Paperwork addresses questions of bureaucracy and arbitrariness. The drawings are made with stamps that the artist picked up from different countries. In times of the digitalization documents are still essential in many official processes. Arranged in different patterns the stamps both play with and subvert our obeisance of bureaucracy. Joy in Paperwork Despite the discussion of the global digital world, bureaucratic procedures continue to be based on hard copies, e.g. one’s passport booklet, driver’s license, or official mail. Utilizing a lexicon of formal compositional possibilities Joy in Paperwork, presents elaborate rubber-stamp drawings.
As the texts of the stamps are repeatedly imprinted, their utility becomes abstracted and gives way to patterns or even recognizable forms – sometimes these drawings look like flowers, or even landscape. Pica has restricted her palette to the three ink colors most commonly used in official paperwork–black, red and blue–and with that. The stamps from different countries in different languages mark something has been paid, received, delivered, or duplicated within the abstraction of the bureaucratic machine. From the repetitive gesture of stamping, archiving and display emerges not only a defiant attitude, but also a resilience and joy that defy the very oppression of bureaucracy itself.
The drawings are meant to overwhelm viewers but also draw them in for close viewing as well. Pica is interested in things that get lost, are overheard, forgotten or miscommunicated. In her work, erasure and compensation happens both at the level of the historical anecdote, and at its mediation through art. Although not only linked to immigration, the work speaks to Pica’s arduous process as a non- European person applying for citizenship in a European country.