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(In) Corporate Identity

April 18, 2011

As an extension to my proposition that we might use a phrase for the VAPE I hereby submit a possibility. It’s a concept which spun off from my experiences while attempting to organise various locations for the VAPE. As is typical when selling the idea of public art as a permanent fixture on the property of business owners and the municipality I ran into a number of obstacles.

One of the walls which I attempted to get permission for belonged to the corporation: (…..). While communicating telephonically with one of the sales personnel they attempted to swat me off with what seemed to them an argument so effective that I would be left stumped, thereby cancelling any attempts to proceed.  This person hit me with a phrase about (….’s) “Corporate Identity” being severely compromised by the proposed mural. Nevertheless, I pushed on, got an address and sent the proposal (which, judging by the lack of response by this late stage is no doubt lost in the heaps of ….’s virtual detritus by now). But as the days went by after that, the phrase: “Corporate Identity” kept popping back into my consciousness. It thoroughly irritated me and kept niggling in the back of my mind, always provoking me, always prompting me to pull a face, and I began to unpack its implications more thoroughly.

I feel as though this phrase is highly problematic. If the words “Corporate Identity” are actually taken cognizance of, the implication arises that it designates a space hostile towards the individual. It means: “One identity for all who are affiliated.” This begins to sound fascist. It demands that a group or body can only be defined in one way. It is stagnant, uncompromising, grey. Each affiliated “individual”, like the one I spoke to over the phone,  knows what the identity is, knows their place within it, perpetuates it and defends it, but plays no role whatsoever in contributing to it. The results of this problem are numerous. The potential for eclecticism and freshness within a business as well as lateral growth are severely minimised. Moreover the persons implicated in this “Corporate Identity” lose their agency. They will ultimately even lose their belief in the possibility of voicing potentially viable ideas and the invocation of a subjective space of problem-solving, or the generation of opportunities for cumulative growth.

So, using this phrase as a target for intervention, the slightly modified “(in)corporate identity” materialised. In this form the phrase offers itself as a mirror image, direct antithesis, and possible candidate for the message appearing on the VAPE. This new phrase has equal potential to be unpacked aswell.

Firstly and on base level it speaks about incorporating ones identity as a conscious act. It prompts individuality and advocates it as a viable and necessary action within day to day existence.

Secondly it draws attention to the act of collaborative engagement which constitutes the VAPE and mural art in general. It refers to and defines our mural as a conscious amalgamation, an incorporation of various identities. The end result will obviously speak about what kinds of things can be achieved by engaging in this process.

Thirdly the “in” can also function as the prefix “un” does , thus: “(un)corporate identity”. This new phrase now stands in direct opposition to the notion of “Corporate Identity”, thereby casting a skewed glace at those who would have things permanently concrete rather than in a state of healthy flexibility.

Fourthly, and in contrast to the previous three interpretations in that it directly problematises them, there is something in this phrase for the postmodernist. The definition of the word “corporate” is: “relating to or shared by all members of a group”. Thus it means something similar to “unified”. If the phrase is therefore reworded thus: “(un) unified identity” it begins to take on associations of the constructed “self” which is believed to be a product of contemporary society. Now it asks questions about what the identity actually is and if it is possible to have a concrete and unified one. It might prompt ideas of the problems associated with this notion, or conversely ask whether there is anything unusual with the idea of the multiple self at all.

Posted below is a work which I recently completed that deals with this last idea.

I would most greatly appreciate some feedback or ideas from anybody else who is going to be painting the wall too.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2011 11:52 am

    Wow Daniel..heavy!! Co operate Identity also comes to mind…

  2. April 19, 2011 9:45 am

    Hectic! I like the idea In-corporate Identity

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