The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.
- George Eliot
Rapid Pulse International Performance Festival, Chicago, IL, June 2013
Expansion / anticipation / chance / a piece of the whole / direction / inclusion / unexpected / time / in and out / performer and audience / relationships / space
Anticipation changes how we deal with and experience the passing of time. Anticipation occurs on a daily, even hourly basis. There is clearly the element of the unknown, there is also the element of assumption and expectations – assuming or expecting an action, an occurrence, an outcome, a response, an experience, or an event.
Action 1 / the Hub 2:30pm:
There is a large white pedestal, 5’ tall by 2.5’ square. It is sitting by the windows in the Hub (=a gathering place for artists, the location of the lectures). I am sitting on a small white circular stool, holding a silver tray; on the tray are white arrows. I am wearing white pants and a white t-shirt with an arrow on the front and the back. The arrows on the t-shirt are the same as the arrows on the tray. A few artists and audience members come and take an arrow. I instruct them to pay attention to the space, see where an arrow needs to go, once it is up it can be moved. The lecture/talk begins around 2:30pm. Through out the lecture I do exactly what I instructed the artists and audience members to do. I pay attention to the space, to the people, and place each arrow where I feel they need to go. I do this until I have no more arrows. The arrows are left up until they are taken down.
Action 2 / the Triangle 4pm:
The large pedestal is dollied over to the triangle (public space across from the Hub at the intersection of 3 streets). On the pedestal is a roll of white paper displayed on a white paper holder. I am wearing a long sleeve white button down shirt and white pants. I step onto a small white circular stool that is in front of the pedestal and begin cutting in the middle of the roll of paper with a large pair of silver stainless steel scissors, this continues until I reach the end of the paper.
Action 3 / DFB Gallery 8pm:
I am sitting on the large pedestal the DFB gallery; the small circular white stool is in front of the pedestal, in front of me. Around my neck hang 37 clear plastic bags each with water and a piece of a tooth or jaw inside. I am holding a glass tray with a scalpel on it. I am wearing white stretchy pants and a white tank top dress. It is a casual gathering, as the audience walks in they are instructed to sit on the floor. As everyone is settling I ask one of the volunteers that is near by if he would like to go first, he says yes. He is instructed to stand on the stool in front of me, and read the quote written on my arm: “Teeth are the instruments whereby their owner takes possession of something and assimilates it.”. He is then invited to take the scalpel and cut one of the bags open and take the contents. He does. Water spills. The tooth is taken. I continue to invite people up, this continues until no one else wants to come up.
Action 4 / DFB Gallery 8:45pm:
The audience is again instructed to find a seat on the floor. The space is dark. The pedestal sits in the middle of the space. Once the audience settles I count to 300. I begin to drill holes into the pedestal. Light can be seen inside. This continues until I stop. I take a seat with the audience and observe. The audience claps. The lights are turned on. An audience member drills one more hole.
*After each action I take two Polaroid pictures. I give one to an audience member and keep one.
Photos by Vela Phelan
Performance art currency is free everywhere. 12noon – 6pm, FOUNTAIN ART FAIR at The Armory in Manhattan, NY, March 8, 2013
First thought / first reaction / choice / trade / mental for physical / currency / art / interaction / selling / performance art is free / performance currency
The set up: 8’ x 12’ booth at Fountain Art Fair, on the floor is a rectangle made of grey carpet squares, on each side of the carpet is a grey stool, in the middle of the carpet is a sculpture made from an old wheel chair, there is a silver tray sitting on the sculpture holding 100 small jars, each with some sort of paper currency from around the world in it, on the floor on another silver tray is a large stack of blank note cards, two black ink pads, a stamp that says “Performance art currency is free everywhere”, a black writing pen and a bowl full of small labels. Each label is labeled with the number the jar is 1/100 -100/100, my name, the date, and on the back of the label is my blog.
My first task is to put labels on all of the jars and hang them on the hooks on the wheel chair sculpture. I start doing this, pretty soon people start walking by, looking, I invite them in. I ask them if they would be interested in making a trade. It’s an easy trade I say…what I need from you is your first thought when you looked in here. The first thing that came to mind. I give them a blank note card and a pen and have them write their thought down. As they are writing I tell them / remind them that no matter where in the world you are, performance art is almost always free to be the audience, and that is a gift…. and that I am giving them a gift, a gift of money, to remind them that performance art being free IS A GIFT, and they should remember that. So we trade. A thought for some money. I take their thought, stamp it with my stamp and pin it to the back of the wall. This action continues until I have given away all 100 jars. It takes about 6 hours.
Special thanks to Amber, Jill and Hoke.
Photos by Vela Phelan
Fountain Art Fair 2013 / Grace Exhibition Space
March 8 - 10, 2013
Rapid Pulse, Performance Festival
June 1-10, 2013
The beginning and the ending, 9:30-11:30am, Medicine Wheel, World Aids Day, The Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, December 1, 2012
Life / weight / path / caring / earth / dirt / soil / growth / remembering / loss
The element is earth this year. There is a very large circle of small brown stones in the middle of the space. There are large marbleized paper structures surrounding the circle of stones. Thirty-seven pedestals make a larger circle round the structures and the circle of stones. I place a large black trash bag and a red pillow next to each other on the inside of the pedestal circle. I cut a slit in the bag and begin filling my shirt with soil. Once it is filled I stand up and walk to the opposite side of the circle and begin to make a pile of soil. This continues until the bag is empty and all the soil has made it to the other side. I throw the bag away. I pick up the red pillow and carry it to the pile of soil. With my hands I create a bowl shape in the middle of the soil. I unzip the pillow. I pull out a tulip and begin dissection it slowing. I place all the parts in the soil and continue this action until the bowl is filled. I pick up the pillow and leave the space.
Photos by Vela Phelan
Narrative / light / heavy / small / large / few / many / offerings / simple / choice
There were four offering actions through out the evening. They spanned the entire evening – 9:30-12midnight.
#1 - There is a small white pedestal with a white sack on it. I untie it. There is a glass bowl with small white pieces of paper in it, there is also another small white bowl sitting on top of all the paper pieces with a single blade in it. I unwrap the blade and make one cut on my middle finger of my left hand. I fill the small white bowl with blood. I use the blood to put my fingerprint on the white papers. I continue until there is no more blood. I place the bowl of fingerprints on the bar as an offering for anyone that would like one. The pedestal is cleared of all the objects. I come back out and leave a small leather bag on it.
#2 – I stand on the pedestal. I put the small white leather bag around my neck. It is filled with syringes. I take one out at a time injecting it in my arm and leaving it. I go back and forth from my left arm to my right until there are no more syringes. I remove them one at a time, dropping each one on the floor, again taking one from my left arm and then one from my right. I get off the pedestal and sweep up all the syringes. I come back out and leave a white sack on it.
#3 – I sit on the pedestal with the white sack on my lap. I untie it. There is a small clear case in it and a bunch of white balloons. In the white case is a beautiful rolled joint. I take it out of the case and ask for a light. I light it, take hit, blow the smoke into a balloon and offer it to an audience member. This continues until I have no more balloons. I get up and come back out with another white sack, and place it on the pedestal.
#4 – I unwrap the sack. I remove a small clear plate that has a small glass cup on it, which is filled with small clear plastic forks. Under the plate is a pie. I walk around and offer a fork to all the audience members / viewers and offer them some pie. The pie is eaten and enjoyed by all.
Photos by Vela Phelan
Release / remake / new form / participate / help
Revisit - Envolver Rope II which took place at MEME located in Cambridge, Ma, May 2011. I am sitting on the white table in the middle of the space. I have the rope that I made during my 23.5 hours at MEME in May 2011 sitting on my lap. On the floor are three different size plastic bags. On the table behind me are six pairs of large red scissors, and five pairs of small red scissors and a pile of matches. As audience members enter the space I invite them to cut a piece of the rope off and place it in the bag. They are told they can keep it, place it back on the pedestal where the rope was being displayed, or take a thing of matches and burn it. This continues for an hour. At the end of the hour the remaining rope is placed back on the pedestal along with the scissors and the remaining matches.
Update / growth / now / then / past / present / control / participate
Revisit – Control which was performed during Quai #1 a Quebec / Boston exchange at MEME, Cambridge, MA, October 2010. I am sitting on the floor on one side of the white table. There is a tray sitting on the floor with the bottles from Control on them. There is a stack of small white plastic cups, a bottle of white rum, and a glass pitcher filled with water. There are eight audience members present. I explain that during Control each of the little bottles was filled with rum. I read each one, drank the rum, wrote the words – I am in control on the window with a white marker, and finally planted a small tree in a big bowl outside the space, this action continued until all of the bottles were empty.
As we all sit on the floor, we revisit each bottle, discussing whether I still feel the need to try and release my control over the given issue. The audience is also invited to take a drink if it is an issue they feel they would like to release their control from. This continues until each bottle / issue has been discussed. Lovely discussion. Lovely participation by all. I return the bottles to the shelf. I place the tray with the cups, rum bottle and pitcher on the floor. I nail up a hand written label.
Truth / quotes / conversation / belief / disbelief / majority / time / present / past
Revisit - What might it need? Which took place at The Boston Center for the Arts, Medicine Wheel, Boston, Ma December 2008. I am sitting at a white table in the middle of the space. There is a large white light hanging above me. There is a clipboard, the large pill bottle from the piece What might it need? Which is filled with pills that have truth written in different languages in them, a glass and a glass pitcher filled with water on the table. There are six audience members present. On the clipboard are 92 quotes about the idea of truth, I read the first quote and ask everyone if they think the quote is true. After some discussion, I take one of the pills out of the bottle read what it says (the best I can) and then swallow the pill. This continues for an hour. 46 quotes were read, 46 pills truth pills were taken. After the hour is completed I return the pill bottle to its shelf, hang the clipboard on the wall and put a new label on the wall.
Objects hold the memory of their life. A performance action only happens once. That moment in time cannot ever happen again. It’s the beauty of performance.
The objects in Time on View are both relics from past performances and living interactive sculptures. The viewer’s interaction and interruption of each object creates the existence of a new piece – their piece – a memory of an action for some, an imagining of an action for others. What has been and what still is to come. Dialogue with an object.
Trading personal for public, U SAVE! 24 HOURS OF GLOSSOLALIA // WHITE WALLS #2, Boston, Ma, August 2012
Personal / public / media / physical and mental health / movement / location / choice
We each have our own relationship with the health of our body and mind. It is often times not shared or discussed. And yet we are constantly being inundated with what could be wrong, what we need to take, what is “normal”. This piece addressed all of these issues.
Mission Hill Baptist Hospital parking lot. Truck. Stainless steel table. Two white stools. Red megaphone. Prescriptions. Me.
I invite people to make a trade: a personal piece of their medical history for a piece of public information about our health care system. I make a few trades. I use the megaphone to read the public information the entire time. The security guard from the hospital comes over and asks us to leave when a large gang of skate boarders comes over. We leave. Trades made.
Photos by Vela Phelan