Débora Delmar’s Corporate Façades

Images courtesy of Soft Opening & Theo Christelis
Text by Claire Milbrath

As more corporations disguise themselves as adult daycares fit with bouncy ball seats, free cereal and nap rooms, the 1980s notion of “corporate” is increasingly kitsch—and simultaneously due for its resurrection in the art world. The old signifiers of wealth and success—the pinstripe suit, the high-heeled pump—now look like cultural artifacts of a bygone era. While the London suit-clad businessman borders irrelevance, the culture of winning friends and influencing people thrives. It’s only become harder to spot a yuppie in a crowd. 

This is Débora Delmar territory, an artist who’s made a name for herself exploring themes of branding and consumerism. Incorporating herself as Débora Delmar Corp (DD) a few years ago, the Mexican-born artist talked of “Branding for Life,” a scenario in which Delmar and an interested art collector and would receive matching “DD” tattoos, sharing both the rights and the experience of the artwork. 

Delmar’s current exhibition Corporate Façades at Soft Opening explores signifiers of corporate life in London’s affluent Mayfair neighbourhood. Corporate Façades documents the generic business meetings held in generic coffee shops. A three-part colour-blocking piece symbolizes the elements of the three-piece business suit. Delmar’s free-to-take newspaper featuring better-business aphorisms mimics the real-life free rags on the streets of Mayfair. 

Each object and surface selected by Delmar designates power and class. The fact that Delmar’s chosen signifiers seem quaint and playfully retro shows that as a society we’ve gotten good at concealing our capitalism. Corporate Façades is open until September 23rd.