Is it Art Yet?
Multiple Sites, Greater Boston, Nov. 19, 2016
10-Hour Durational Performance
I was invited to develop a performance project for a donor tour organized by the MFA Boston. The tour sites included: The galleries at Montserrat College of Art, The Peabody Essex Museum, The Addison Gallery, and an artist’s apartment designed by David Ireland. Through questions, gentle prompts, and shared actions the day-long performance created a space for participants to challenge their assumptions about what art is and where to look for it.
Challenging participants to question when their experience with “the art” began and ended, I used the transitions from one gallery to the next as the primary sites for my performance. The long bus rides between galleries were used as opportunities to engage the participants in discussions about a variety of social issues. Some questions that participants were asked to discuss included: Have you experienced gender discrimination this week? What role does white privilege play in white supremacy? Given the current social, environmental, and political climate what are the most urgent questions we should be asking ourselves as U.S. citizens? Participants wrote their reflections and their own questions on post it notes to display on the windows of the bus. I also handed out diagrams (sourced from the internet) that illustrated aspects of white supremacy and gender identification. While the bus was designated for workshop-type activities, I used our walks to galleries and the group lunch to create subtle images and improvised actions. My attire functioned as an image that developed over the course of the day. I wore a highly reflective jacket, space-printed pants, carried 70m of climbing rope, and occasionally used a megaphone during conversations. I wore a bio-metric sensing device and periodically reported my heart rate to the participants throughout the day. I modified stiletto high heals with climbing cord and micro-spikes used for icey-hiking. The heels required that I ask participants to physically assist me when walking on certain surfaces. The act of assisting me in walking (and entering into the image) was created to be ambiguous- was it part of “the art” or simply a practical request? Another example of an action that created this kind of tension was when I discreetly ate risotto with my hands during lunch at a local restaurant.