Jennifer Lanski
Time Equivalents Series
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“1 Hr. Cleaners”     Fountain pen and india ink on BFK Rives paper     18” × 22”     2006

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Saturday, 10:08 am–11:08 am
The “Time Equivalents” series depicts businesses that advertise, through signage, the length of time they require to perform whatever service they offer. Each business was drawn on-site, usually from a vantage point across the street (or parking lot) from the business. Each drawing was completed in the length of time equal to that advertised by the business (and depicted in the drawing); the time during which the drawing was made is written beneath the image of the business on the right-hand side. Hence, a drawing of a one-hour cleaners was done in one hour; a drawing of a five-minute car wash was done in five minutes.

Though not unique to Los Angeles, such announcements of efficiency or speed are abundant in the city, and their ubiquity helped inspire this project. Such businesses place value (and assume their customers do as well) on speed; the faster the service can be performed the better. Thus value is inversely proportional to the duration of labor required. This is often in contrast to perceived value in art, where frequently one may be asked how long it took to create a specific work; though unexpected speed of execution may impress, the commitment implied by a lengthier process often equates to more perceived value. (Considerations like time spent conceiving work, honing skill, or otherwise used not in direct creation of a given work are generally entirely discounted.) Thus, the interaction of time, labor, and value is explored in and inspires this work.

Additionally, the drawings are priced based on a two-factor system. There is a base price for each drawing (which takes into account these indirect time or labor considerations like experience, training, practice, material preparation, etc., as well as the value of something being “art”), to which is added an additional amount corresponding to an hourly wage (calculated according to the amount of time spent executing the drawing, making this part of the value of the work directly proportional to the most visible form of labor in creating the work).

Creating the work on-site has the additional effect of unexpectedly making visible the labor of the artist in the everyday public setting rather than having that labor be invisible in the private, secluded, and unseen confines of the studio, where it is only later visible to the self-selecting population that would visit a gallery or other space where the finished work might be exhibited.

Some or all of the drawings from the “Time Equivalents” series have been exhibited in Los Angeles; Athens, Greece; and Santa Ana, California.