A cabinet will be constructed and left on a sidewalk. I will be hidden inside and not reveal myself until someone assumes possession and brings the cabinet from the public space to a private space. To read in detail about this experience please follow this link to my blog: www.lucasmurgida.blogspot.com/Often the city seems to be ours alone to experience and we assume that it is in turn ours for the taking. This sensibility is made evident in the U.S. by the often-quoted phrase, “Possession is 9/10 of the law.” This means that the person who is not in possession of an item must prove that it is rightfully theirs. As each of us navigates the city we perceive the occurrences that we come into contact with to be unique to ourselves. This seems rational as each person observes events from a specific vantage point. These observations become confused by the witness because s/he interprets those public experiences through the filter of the their personal histories. For example, one person sees an event to be a hostile confrontation while another will see it is a playful exchange. As we experience the city we lay claim to our interpretations and often make the assumption that things are as they appear to us to be. The burden of proof then rests upon another to prove that this is not so. Nowhere is this more evident than when something that may be private property is placed in a public space. A person is not sure how to look at the object at first, but will usually fall back on the golden rule of U.S. culture (finders keepers, losers weepers) and claim it to be theirs. I am hoping to subvert the “finder’s” personal space by claiming it to be my own public space.
This outdoor intervention will be in place west of the Center for Architecture and south of Washington Square Park in New York City on Saturday, September 13th, from noon onward as part of The Conflux Festival.
To learn more about this piece follow this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lucasmurgida/
Follow this address to learn more about the festival: www.confluxfestival.org/conflux2008/910/
Notes from Day #1:
There were four different audiences that I was trying to engage with this work. The first were the people monitoring my progress online via my text messages and photos. I received text messages from people in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and London. It was interesting and demanding to try to describe what I was experiencing and feeling while this process was going on. It was also very intense for some of the people monitoring as well. My brother commented that while I was locked inside my box the people monitoring my progress were locked in their own box of a different sort, as each of us were equally out of control of the situation. Mine was a box of wood while theirs were computer screens or cell phones. The next tier in the audience was the people that came to the Conflux festival and went out to try to find my cabinet in the city. I didn’t give a specific location so they were required to explore and re-examine the city in a different way in order to find me. My hope was that they would have a similar experience as I did when I was looking for the right spot to leave the cabinet. Over the course of several days I wandered around the neighborhood near the Center for Architecture until I happened upon the spot that would satisfy my needs for the piece. The third segment of the audience were the people that had no idea that I was inside the cabinet and were simply interested in bringing the piece of furniture to their home. I had surrendered the control of my movements to them and in turn was able to listen and observe their interactions with the cabinet. As with my last few pieces, I surrendered my power to them and appeared to assume a very submissive position. However I would argue that it was I that was in fact in control of the situation as these people were unaware of my presence or my intentions. The last audience member was myself, observing and trying to record my reactions to the situation.
I stated briefly that this experience was intense for the people monitoring me via the web. It was also intense for me as well and I attempted to be as candid as possible about what I was feeling during the experience. Interestingly, when it was over, I felt un-phased by it. I was interacting with people almost right away and was busy analyzing what went right and what went wrong. I was disoriented, hot, sweaty, and thirsty when I exited the cabinet both days, however, I recovered from this rather quickly. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for some sort of intense emotional reaction to arise, but it never came while I was in New York. Two days later when I was back in San Francisco it hit me hard. For four days I had nightmares, restless sleep, anxiety, and depression. While I was experiencing this aftermath I knew that it was the by-product of the piece however this knowledge did not temper the emotional roller coaster. I still wake up hot and sweaty and, those of you that have ever lived in San Francisco know that the weather is rarely warm enough to produce this sort of heat in a person’s body while they are sleeping.
I would like to offer a special thanks to Sara Dierck for once again documenting my life with her photography as well as putting up with the stress that comes with witnessing difficult works of art.