Runaway 'Strategic Planning'


Image from "Strategic Planning,'' by Chantal Zakari, at Kingston Gallery, Boston, Jan. 3-28. The gallery explains:

"Chantal Zakari creates a collection of flags that reference business nomenclature which is widely being used by academic administrations. The business term 'Strategic Plan' originated in the military but is now a staple of every university, liberal arts college, and even small art schools. It functions as a promise for positive change along with improvements for the institution's immediate future.

"The designs of these pennants, sailing burgees and medieval gonfalons are a study ... with visual elements from various historical periods. Collected on Internet clipart sites, the vernacular imagery points to a hollow vocabulary: SWOT for strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats; Competitive Landscape; Synergy; Global Imperative; Innovation Catalyst; Leadership Workshop… The accompanying artist's book for the exhibition is designed in the style of a product catalog. Here, the banners are seen within context, in college specific spaces such as faculty offices, dorm rooms, libraries and art studios.

"At a time when an increasing number of small colleges are under financial stress due to a shrinking student population caused by enormous increases in tuition, these art objects stand as reminders of the true ideals of higher education that are at risk.''