I am Chris Purdie is a performance art piece involving thirty-five performers playing the role of visual artist Chris Purdie. The cast wears the "Chris Purdie uniform" and performs the role as they interact with patrons attending the artist's reception. For the duration of the exhibition, there will be at least one "Chris Purdie" in the gallery during their hours.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Strength to Say No

Friday the 20th was the reception at the HFAC for the shows of Susan, Kisslan, Wei, and myself. I get rather frustrated with "moochers" at these events, who snack on the way into a theater event rather than seeing the art. The eats are an age-old, ongoing Pavlovian experiment--the Art Department's way of trying to get visitors to associate artsy-fartsy displays with good (or at least interesting) food, and reward attendance with a treat. When most students are doing their final show/reception, all available resources have been tapped, and the offerings to the (hoped-for) legions of attendees represent the final Widow's Mite of the BFA/MFA candidate. It is thoroughly annoying, and not to mention slightly thoughtless, for a theater-going visitor to step around three (that's right, I said THREE) signs inviting, in large and friendly red letters, the potential snacker to partake of the mind-expanding bounty of the art display BEFORE eating, and eat what may have been the last bit of cracker-and-cheese in the poor graduating student's pantry.

Of course, there is a reasonable possibility that I might be exaggerating slightly, but still--you understand.

I felt Chris had to step in.

Dressing up in a ritualistic fashion, and in full Chris regalia, I donned the Personna and Purdified myself. My kids, who were helping me with the reception stuff, determined it was just another evidence of my exposure to lead and mildly radioactive waste in my formative years, but pretended not to notice. I helped set up the food 30 minutes before hand, because Chris was really starting to get irritated at those darned insensitive theater-goers, and wanted some confrontation. I moved the signs warning about improper refreshment ingestion so they formed an obvious barrier against casual snacking, and sat like a predator (or maybe a small-town speed trap cop) waiting for victims to appear.

It was liberating.

As Chris, I was able to tell the offending, unworthy nibblers exactly what they could do with their greasy little tickets and half-eaten Pringles, unless they wanted to take some quality time and check out the REAL shows. My kids said that in reality I was weirdly polite, self-deprecating, and almost apologetic when I carefully explained why the moochers' behavior was incorrect. My mother-in-law said it was wonderful, and I needed to be Chris to the next family picnic when a huge family of squatters tries to take over the pavilion WE reserved.

After two hours of that, I wondered around the exhibits making Chris comments, and switching between answering questions as Chris (Well, what do YOU think it means?) and as myself (I suppose, before I go into that, I need to know if you are comfortable with the works of Heidegger, Hegel, Kant, Augustine, Pythagoras, Plato, and Ridley Scott--are you?). All in all, it was liberating (vs. the Theater People) and enjoyable.

Best of all, if any of the Theater People complain, they won't call me!

1 comment:

hermanfox said...

being chris has its advantages. thank you for standing for something.