In the past two years, the city has become one of the most infested regions in America, according to the Department of Health. Though they are frequently correlated with poverty, bed bugs have also affected some of the most luxurious hotels in the city.
The video revolves around a single sculptural element: a vintage 21 x 15 inch Samsonite suitcase, which has been retrofitted with an arrangement of scientific machinery and medical equipment used for drawing blood and breeding bed bugs. The suitcase’s breeding chamber, which will be empty during the exhibition, doubles as a diorama of a luxury hotel room within which the narrative is set. The room is located in a notorious hotel, located just blocks from the White House, which has become one of the most potent symbols of the convergence of corporate and political power in the United States.
Harkening back to late 1960s spy thriller entertainment such as Mission Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the James Bond series, Non-Essential Consultants, Inc. evidences a similar state in American history today: a public distrust of both government and the media. In addition, rapid technological advances have led to new national security threats that have outpaced the public’s ability to process them. Amidst widespread feelings of disenfranchisement, the suitcase and its former inhabitants serve as reminder that societal shifts often manifest from the simplest and most unforeseen origins, highlighting the inevitable permeability of even the most complex and fortified power structures.
Duke Riley: Non-Essential Consultants, Inc. is presented as part of the Performa 19 Biennial, and is made possible with generous support from Cristina Enriquez-Bocobo, The O’Grady Foundation, Michael Gruenglas, Mac Premo, quiet, and Joshua Rechnitz. The events depicted in this exhibition are a speculative dramatization and do not represent actual events.