Door dose not lock

Rotary Centre for the Arts
supported by Alternator Gallery
Kelowna, British Columbia
January 2004

I work a lot with language; the way we choose to represent ourselves formally and informally through words and other forms of language. The “body language” of written communication, just as in person-to-person communication, often says as much or more about the message and the writer as the words themselves. (Imagine a hastily scrawled warning sign, a love letter riddled with errors in spelling and grammar, a fancily engraved “out of order” plaque for a bathroom stall.)

This project involves placing signs in bathrooms, on or near doors, which read “please lock door,” “do not lock door” and “door does not lock.” These signs are produced through various means; there are engraved plaques, sticky notes with scrawled pencil, laminated computer printouts. Some will include errors in spelling or punctuation and some will be correct. I am interested in examining the notion that how we present instructions or warnings affects how they are responded to. Will a perfectly functioning lock be left open because a brass plaque says it is “brocken”? Are we made to feel paranoid by a taped-up note telling us to lock the door, though we always do anyway? Are we a little hesitant to follow the instructions, or even to go to the bathroom? Because no one is obviously responsible for placing the signs, we are unable to pinpoint the source of our confusion or the authority by which we have been instructed to do something, therefore we may be more or less inclined to comply, though it may seem senseless or wrong.