“Grace Herbert’s exhibition Increase Productivity brings together two symbolic regimes of self-improvement: the first is that of contemporary corporate culture, represented by that most ubiquitous object of postfordism, the communal hot desk; and the second is that of the personal fitness and well-being industry, here represented by a Bod Pod – an air-tight, human-scaled, fibreglass chamber that, using the principle of air displacement, calculates the user’s body–fat ratio with extreme precision. Both the hot desk and the Bod Pod are installed within adjoining transparent but nevertheless walled-in mobile office spaces, each 3 x 3 metres wide, which the artist has constructed inside the gallery. They are lit with the same cool, flat light of fluros, which gives both objects and spaces a uniform palette. Yet where the communal hot desk connotes sociality, the Bod Pod (which, with the help of cyberfeminist artist Linda Dement, has been made over into an atmospheric meditation cubicle fitted out with a customised voice-over and pensive soundtrack) encourages deep, personal introspection.
How, we are therefore compelled by to ask, are we to understand the hot desk and the Bod Pod’s relation to one another? Where the hot desk allows one to work on whatever, wherever, whenever, and thereby become a more competitive producer, the Bod Pod allows one to understand one’s body and its specific nutritional needs in order to reach peak physical (or in the case of this exhibition, peak emotional and psychological) fitness. Their combination in the gallery thus reads as a portrait of the shifting economies of productivity and efficiency under late capitalism, of the total bleed between work and leisure, one’s self and one’s job – with the mobile office operating at the level of the social, and the Bod Pod at the level of the individual.”
Helen Hughes – catalogue excerpt.