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Welcome to The Service Room. You are invited to offer services to our community of participants, and request services in return. We will do our best to help you find the desirable exchange and provide the most accommodating environment possible within The Service Room. Register through our online scheduling system to either provide or receive services facilitated by the countertop utilities we offer including our kitchen facilities, computer workstation, massage bed and our station for manicure/pedicure and hairstyling. The project takes place at Recess, 41 Grand Street New York, NY 10013 as part of the Session program, from September 8 – October 28 2017.

The Service Room is a unique environment and framework for the communal exchange of services. Created as part of Recess Session program by artist Maayan Strauss, the project is centered on a customized and hybridized kitchen countertop. The space enables disparate activities to exist on the same literal and symbolic plane and, in so doing, imagine a world in which varying types of labor co-constitute a sustainable system of non-extractive transactions.

The Service Room takes inspiration from the modern kitchen as an example of how design can profoundly influence society. The evolution from the pre-20th century kitchen’s function as a hidden place of service to the modern iteration—which incorporates electronic appliances and social engineering products as key to its role as a site of entertainment and gathering—demonstrates the ways in which changes in design can give rise to distinctive forms of sociality. Taking up this potential, The Service Room’s hybrid nature is designed to provide a productive and supportive infrastructure that can generate new forms of communal exchange.

In the current moment, as the promises of independent work within the sharing economy proliferate, there is a pressing need to interrogate the existing systems and push back against their inherently extractive logic. The Service Room is a timely response to these conditions—and one that goes beyond a political shift in rhetoric to instead present a possibility for reinventing increasingly precarious social structures.

Foregrounding the correlation between real estate and agency, the project aims to model a new infrastructure for social exchange by reimagining the hierarchy of labor types and the engine of our economy. As an alternative to “sharing economy” apps, which are often driven by the controlling authority of venture capital, The Service Room makes available the desirable elements of flexibility, on-demand services, and individual choice within a physical space and without the mediation of a profit-oriented third party stakeholder.

As it takes shape within Recess’s Soho storefront, surrounded by specialty retailers and boutique service agencies, The Service Room endeavors to create a temporary oasis in which commercial circuits are rerouted to yield a generative social platform.
Strauss commissioned designer Lauren Francescone to create a graphic identity for the exhibition and a parallel set of ceramic objects. These branded, multipurpose sculptures may be used by all participants of The Service Room. All objects are available for purchase as part of the commission, itself an exchange between Strauss and Francescone.
About Recess
Founded in 2009, Recess is a nonprofit art space in SoHo and Downtown Brooklyn. Recess creates opportunities for artists to work in a public setting, initiating partnerships among artists and audiences. By welcoming radical thinkers to take risks as they address complex questions in real time with their public, Recess defines and advances the possibilities of contemporary creative practice. Recess Session supports the creation of new work by giving artists a project stipend, artist’s fee, technical support, mentorship, and approximately two months to transform Recess into a hybrid of a productive studio space dynamic exhibition platform.
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