(2007-Present) Public art performance.
I began playing with Slow Walking as a durational performance experiment in 2007. The idea to bring performance into public space presented a chance to interact with the public through their choices.
The structure of a Slow Walk is not a set in stone idea, so far it has consisted of 1-4 performers taking three hours to walk the length of a busy city block. For some audience/passersby it’s a chance to participate, for others it’s a reason to look away. None of the Slow Walkers ever talk to the public while walking, but the public speaks to us through words and gestures. One man observed that a Slow Walker’s nose was running, the passerby pulled out a tissue and stuffed it in the hand of the Slow Walker. Watchers/audience actively dissuade others who show signs of messing with the Slow Walk, one man was heard to say “i’ll fuck up anyone who messes with these folks”. The first Slow Walk revealed an experience to us that was an overflowing of sensation. The focus needed to move at such a pace creates a total distortion of one’s normal relationship to a habitual pace.
The seed idea came from a previous experiment in public performance around 2005 with two male performers standing in heavily trafficked public space, face to face on a flat piece of wood, motionless, roughly three inches from nose to nose for forty-five minutes. In this experiment, the two performers had ongoing conversation between them about the experience of close proximity and the reactions of the public as they observed this interaction. The performers did not answer questions posed by passersby. The choice not to talk to the public was made with the intention of helping to keep the performers focused on the task. We wanted to see what narrative the public would see playing out without any input. The observed public response to the performers was that an altercation was about to take place. Individuals shouted at the performers “let me know if you want me to call the cops”, “don’t fight” and “kiss and make up”.
From the first experiment came the idea of shaping and playing with bystanders’ focus in public space: a group of women and men walked around pretending they were being dive bombed by non-existent birds. All the while the group was observing the passersby’s reactions as they tried to figure out the group’s reaction to the nonexistent situation. Next came the idea of a public clothing exchange. Two people would meet in public, exchanging all the clothing on their bodies except for their underwear and walk away as though it was a normal activity. As this test was being performed, duration began to be played with.