Foosball in the office? Ask McArdle

Office foosball? Delightfully Google-y?

Am I speaking with the proprietor? Because if you are the boss, and you enjoy table footie and can afford the indulgence, please proceed. Your workplace should reflect your character—at least, that is how I justify my “archery range.” But don’t make the purchase for the sake of improving morale or projecting a hepcat image. Google, the whimsical cataloguing service, does festoon its offices with playground equipment, secret gardens and other physical marginalia. But such trimmings merely disguise the real joy of those spaces, that being plenty of natural light, desk space and breathable air. These basic amenities are what employees truly crave, and I have proof: 42% of individuals said their workspace would be bettered by an outside view, while 30% desired more privacy, and 18% felt it either too hot or too cold, according to a survey by the American Society of Interior Designers (yes, such a thing exists). In short, a foosball table will garner amusement. High-quality desk lamps and sturdy doors will earn your employees’ love.

Can you buy performance art?

I’ve been highly cynical about fine art ever since my ouster from the Group of Eight. This question, however, is a subject of exhaustive debate, particularly among performance artists. Most contend that when artist Marina Abramovic sits perfectly still in a chair for 700 hours (2010’s The Artist is Present, and, no, not consecutively) or Alison Knowles makes a salad (1962’s Make a Salad), the actual artwork evaporates once the performance concludes. This makes the work “inherently difficult to collect,” explains Jonathan Shaughnessy, an associate curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada, “but not impossible.” (The more literal-minded might now excuse themselves for a vodka and return for our third question.) One can also purchase or borrow the instructions for how to perform a work. When the Tate Britain commissioned Martin Creed’s Work No. 850, which involves runners dashing through the gallery, it received specifications for the runners’ speed—they were to run “as if their life depended on it”—as well as the specific interval between them. Those details were later shared with Vancouver’s Rennie Collection for a 2011 exhibit. Some artists have turned this exchange of information into a performance unto itself. If you purchase one of Tino Sehgal’s “constructed situations”—such as museum guards dancing and singing “This is so contemporary”—he sits down with you in the presence of a notary and describes the idea. It may not be written down. And while there are stipulations—the final art cannot be photographed and performers must be paid some amount of money—the work can be lent or resold on the free market. Collectors have reportedly paid between $85,000 and $145,000 for Sehgal’s notions. Even the most cynical amongst us must applaud his industry. Who wouldn’t want to charge a premium for bluster?

Should I be brushing my teeth in the office bathroom?

Sadly, for those who prefer our preventative health measures in moderation, a noontime brushing can be beneficial. Should you find such zealotry ridiculous, consider chewing sugarless gum, advises Arthur Worth, president of the Ontario Dental Association: “This gets the saliva flowing, which clears away food particles from your teeth.” So yes, let’s all do that.

“Foosball” around the world: calcio balilla (Italy), csocsó (Hungary), fla-flu (Brazil), futbolin (Spain), taca taca (Chile), metegol (Argentina), kicker (Russia), le baby-foot (France)

Need advice? Want to settle a debate? Go ahead, ask McArdle anything:

Illustration by Peter Arkle