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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sego Lecture Night and Los Hermanos Happening


Please do your best to find the following items for the uniform. It is not necessary to be exactly the same or to have everything as long as we appear to be connected.

DRESS CODE (UNIFORM listed by priority)

1 - Black frame glasses (sources $1-8 at DI, Savers, dollar stores, or at Claire's in malls)

2 - Black knit watch cap beanie ($3-8 available at many locations, for sure at Uncle Sam's Army/Navy)

3 - Black full zip sweatshirt hoodie

4 - Brown pants

5 - Black t-shirt

6 - Black scarf (can be any black material)

7 - Dark Belt

8 - Dark socks

9 - Black shoes

You are invited to participate in a *happening with the cast of I am Chris Purdie on March 26th 8-10pm.

In conjunction with the Sego Art Center's current exhibition of I am Chris Purdie, the monthly evening with the artist lecture and discussion series will be Thursday March 26th 7-8pm. Please come and join in the discussion. As part of the lecture we will all be going, in uniform, to dinner at Los Hermanos (details below).

Next Thursday evening (March 26th) between 8 and 10 pm all involved will transform Los Hermanos from a restaurant into a gallery.

In groups of 2-6, approximately 5-10 minutes apart we will slowly enter the restaurant, fill it with "Chris Purdie's", and eat dinner.

Thinking in terms of the performance and performers as artwork in a gallery, the maitre d’ becomes the curator placing the art in the gallery, and the servers then become the curatorial staff attending to the needs of the art.

The capacity for Los Hermanos is 210 patrons so we need to invite a lot of people to try to fill it.

Guidelines for Performance

1) Please be serious. (this could be seen as a joke or a stunt so we must stay in character - as far as you know we are just there for dinner)

2) Don't acknowledge the fact that everyone is dressed the same - you are "Chris Purdie".

Please RSVP so we may reserve and assign a time slot for you and your party.

Contact Chris with any questions - chrisdpurdie@hotmail.com 801.426.4696

* A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. Happenings take place anywhere, are often multi-disciplinary, often lack a narrative and frequently seek to involve the audience in some way. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation. (Wikipedia)

Monday, March 23, 2009

New self portrait

charcoal on paper, roughly 3x4 ft.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I am Chris Purdie - The Poem After the Performance

Vulnerability: a moment of silence
where everyone gathers to speak

The body, a better listener, takes comfort in knowing 
it didn't have a choice

Cross-examination is in fashion after all; in defense of taboo
the tongue well-intended, what's left of credentials if we're subtle like we should be

Your olive branch, the treacherous tête-à-tête, can still be in good taste
though the transcript may not include our names

Language has made liars of us all; silence is precision
binding the clauses of conversation; the awkward

pause, merely a figure of speech
unless performed in earnest

Your sense of certainty - a luminous window 
my apprehension, a runaway skateboard

Enough with the transparent peace offerings; I'm aiming
at your expectations

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I AM CHRIS PURDIE --- Progress Report

Photographs: Leo Patrone Design: Cole Nielsen

We had a successful performance with close to 700 attending and many staying almost the entire time. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated and helped in creating an exciting environment. Photos coming soon.

Please be sure to attend the exhibition March 6-28, 2009 at the Sego Art Center, Tuesday- Saturday's 2-8pm. There will be at least one "Chris Purdie" in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.

We are in progress on the 12 page exhibition catalog designed by Cole Nielsen, photographs by Leo Patrone, Justin Hackworth, Chad Keyes and others, and essays by Wade Hollingshaus and Jill Dawsey. Scheduled to be printed and available March 30, 2009.

We are also in progress on the documentary of I am Chris Purdie scheduled for release May 30, 2009.
Directed, filmed, and edited by Judy Simmons, Spencer Cahoon, Travis Pitcher, Cameron Wilbur, Aaron Ogilvie, and Andrew Smith.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I hate to have to say it...

...But I don't enjoy "being" Chris Purdie. Nothing personal, Chris. I felt a dreadfilled pit in my stomach all day Friday: could have been the weather, could have been the anxiety I feel about winter driving (I went to Ephraim that day), or it could have been the knowledge that I was going to don the ill-fitting brown pants and hairdo-smashing beanie that evening. Added to that I do not wear contacts or glasses, and the glasses infringe on my viewing pleasure as they slide down my nose every 3 minutes. Call me vain, but it bothers me not to "look my best." The clothing does nothing for my figure, and I like to wear earrings. Chris doesn't wear earrings.

I have gone to school twice as Chris Purdie, those were the days when my schoolmates looked past me and didn't recognize me. It felt like heresy not to follow the unwritten BYU code for single women: You will wear make-up and have your hair done everyday, no matter if you are wearing sweats, you never know where you will meet your EC (eternal companion). I went to Costa Vida one day for lunch, and the man behind the counter who asks everyone if they want "black or pinto sir/mam?" didn't follow his question with a reference to gender. He just didn't call me anything. The androgynous element to the Chris costume is an interesting one, it makes me uncomfortable. I don't think the "real" Chris Purdie or the male actors may experience what we women feel when donning the uniform. Your thoughts, ladies???

KUTV 2 News Interview

For anyone not up at 6:50am Friday March 6, twenty "Chris Purdie's" were featured on the KUTV 2 Morning News program. (Watch the interview below or click here)

The interview went really well. We had a little "bump" (short shot) before the commercial break and then a 2 minute interview.

Chris Purdie, Joscef Castor, and Denise Metcalf fielded the questions and gave some good answers in character while the other "Chris's" milled around in the background. Everyone did a great job staying in character.

I was very impressed with the dedication of the performers to wake up so early and travel all the way to Salt Lake City to help promote the show. I think we all had a fun time.

After the interview we had some fun getting footage walking through the revolving door then travelling up and down the escalator. Before going home we crossed the street and went to a cafe to get some pastries (image below).

PS - Thanks to Jill Fellow, and the Sego Art Center we have received a good amount of press for the show, here are the places to look.
Daily Herald, In Magazine, City Weekly, 15 Bytes, UVU Review, BYU NewsNet, 337 Project Newsletter, and various other postings.

photographs by Brandon Purdie

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Rhythm of Life

Where do I begin?...In donning the Chrispy attire, there is an almost immediate paradigm shift. It is almost impossible to determine the exact catalyst, but it is existent nonetheless. I walk out of my bedroom a whole new person, yet filtered through the lenses of another being who has lived in this body for a very long time. Roommates don't really know what to make of this. I get a quizzical, almost reproachful glance from one, while the other expresses admiration that I am so dedicated to my craft. I really don't know what to make of outward praise. Out of my costume, I would accept such acclamations about my personal investment in the arts, but as Chris, the attention makes me feel a little too self-aware for comfort. I warm up quickly though. I have been listening to the music that inspires me, paying special attention to the rhythm of performance...the beats that drive the piece forward. I feel a desire to transfer that rhythm into my actions. I begin to feel my actions start to be driven by an underlying rhythm, kind of like a background music to my life. I walk out and people start asking me about my art, I find satisfaction in this conversation, although there is a lot more to say than can ever truly be said...but I just stay with the rhythm, and everything seems to be ok.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bring-Your-Chris-Purdie-To-Work Day

photos by Brea Sorrell

Chris Purdie made a guest directorial appearance at Rubberball Productions today.

When he first arrived, the staff at Rubberball mistakenly identified Purdie as Eddie King (a current Rubberball employee). Rubberball employee Brea Sorrell (who took the above photos) reportedly stated, "Eddie, it's weird to see you in baggy pants."

Purdie was reserved at first, but after getting to know the staff at Rubberball and doing a series of arm stretches (a ritual he engages in prior to playing energetic rock shows; it prevents his muscles from locking up during a performance) Chris opened up and began directing a shoot featuring slot race cars.

Rubberball Productions declared the shoot a success, citing Purdie's intense attention to detail and amazing ability to make every single aspect of the shoot symbolic.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Saggy Nerd

Last Friday was a special day. My fifth-grader was mortified that I took her to school in my Chrisgear, and by the time I got to work, I was comfortable in my oversize pants, black shoes, and awkward glasses. My coworkers (hesitant to say anything about my behavior or uniform) quickly adapted to the real me, and asked me to explain my art project to them. After establishing a solid, politely nonconfrontational presence at work, I went to BYU to uninstall the exhibit my alter-ego had previously set up.

Taking down the exhibit, people approached to help or offer greetings, only to stop a moment and readjust to the new reality. People stopped what they were going to say, smiled slightly, and said, "Nice to see you, Chris," and more often than not, offered to help for a second to take down Andy's show. Another Chris adjusted my hat for me (thoughtful). After taking down the exhibit, it was back to work. My interaction with people at my job is limited (I am rarely let out--unescorted--of the locked room), but the customers I met with either were completely unimpressed with my snappy attire, or seemed genuinely interested with my art project. After a long, grueling day of adjusting my glasses, I had to go to the Orem library and pick up a sculpture to be delivered to another site the next day. That was interesting.

Growing up south of five nuclear power plants, with an engineer father who helped develop early robotics software and a mother with multiple Masters degrees, I feel a particular familiarity with the stereotypical nerd profile. I was a bit surprised, however, by my reception at the library (NOT, however, by the librarians--they are always models of appropriate behavior). My oldest, who believes that observing the adult "uncool" condition will help her avoid the same problems, agreed to go with me to pick up the sculpture, and observed reaction to the new me.

Standing to wait for the reference librarian (patiently), I passed the time by smiling occasionally, fiddling with my fingers, pinching my sides with my elbows, and correcting the perching angle of my feet. While he was finishing with the patrons before me in line, a couple young men (members of the high school social elite) came up behind me and started muttering to each other. My daughter said that, when I failed to respond (I couldn't understand them, for one thing--and besides, responding would have been rude) they would slightly raise their volume. They made a number of comments about my nifty hat and sweater, which I ignored because I thought they were discussing a statue nearby. The librarian came to help me, scowled at the two boys behind me, and took me to the basement display where the sculpture was. For some reason, the two boys followed us downstairs.

The librarian kindly helped us get the work out of its display case, pausing frequently to scowl again at the two boys, and guided us back upstairs. At his desk, he asked again if there was anything he could do to help us, and complemented my alter ego regarding the show on display. As my daughter and I were leaving, he turned to the two boys and said (with a bit of snap), "What do you want?" They asked something, and he told them he couldn't help, and they'd have to come back on Saturday. Then he turned away and completely ignored them. On our way out, I asked my daughter why she thought the man would do that. "Well, Dad," she said, "I think the librarian was angry at them for following us around and making fun of you." "What do you mean?" I asked, because I was completely oblivious. "They called you a Saggy Nerd."

The librarian stuck up for me, not even knowing who I was.

Did I mention I like librarians?

Being myself

As I was walking around campus I found myself thinking in a new light. As Chris Purdie i find myself feeling a bit more reserved. this in unnatural to my life. My other identity is as a female actress. This is the identity I have portrayed most of my life. As I was Chris I found it difficult to be loud. I was more aware of my surroundings. in a class I sat in on we had a discussion about art. what is art? for me it is the journey of building something that make a statements about what we are and who we are. as i was in class i volunteered my hat to the teacher who used it to put words into it to teach a lesson about Dada. when the hat was returned to me two words were still inside. the words were "thou" and "possession". i put the words in the rim of my hat. I thought i might use these words to inspire a project soon. For a day I was not playing a character, I Am Chris Purdie. I'm not the interpretation of Chris, but i am trying to find the Ethos of Chris. As and actress you create a character but in this case the character has already been created by years of experiences! The other day while I was Chris I hear someone call me Lisa. I was so confused. who is Lisa. "I am Chris." I thought to myself. It was a strange feeling to not know who I was for a moment. I am Chris Purdie....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Karl Marx thought that in order to reach the "totality of individuality" a person needs to be part of a community. Within that community each person needs to take pride in their specific, individual role. When you find yourself in relation to the whole, you become a complete individual. Adorno, another Marxist thinker, talked about the idea of solipsism. This term refers to the idea that we can't know anything that is outside of us. All we can know is our perceptions of people and objects. This means that, to ourselves, we are the center of everything because we're the only thing we can really know. Adorno rejected this idea, suggesting instead that it is essential to find connection with the things around us and to have meaningful interactions with others.
When people hear "Marx" they often think "communism." But they aren't really the same thing, just to clear that up. These ideas (which I learned about in a class this week) made me think of our role as Chris Purdie. We are all playing the same character, but as another person commented on the blog, we each bring out a different aspect of Chris Purdie. Together we form a community of Chris Purdies who are reaching out and trying to understand the Chris Purdie, ourselves, and other people as we have conversations. Yes, we filter Chris's experiences through our own, but in the process we also take on a part of Chris and add that to our perspective on life. As Chris shared with me in our conversation, our internal identities are influenced by outside forces. And the more interactions we have with all kinds of people, the richer our identity will be. In this Chris community, maybe we can come closer to accessing our "totality of individuality."
P.S. Oscar Wilde said "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." It's crazy that playing a character can help us to understand more of the truth about ourselves. But it's true. This Chris Purdie thing can be liberating.

Monday, March 2, 2009

UVU Panel of Chris Purdie

For me, becoming a reflection of Chris Purdie involved a lot of surprise. Over the weeks of info and observations, I have thought about what I immediately connected to with Chris, our most obvious differences, etc., & it came out as intellectual ideas, like us having our conversion to the LDS church at the same age, our retrospective glances at lives we once pursued with vigor, & now remember with awe, & nostalgic "what ifs." But when sitting among a panel of other Chris Purdies so willing to speak, so prepared to expose him - as Chris Purdie, himself, requested - to a room tiered of tabled students & garish florescent lights, it became very clear to me what I cherish most about Chris Purdie. And it was nothing so concrete as a topic or event in time. 

With the dominant Chris Purdie on my left determined to be heard & understood, undaunted by his stories of testicular cancer & realities of offspring, & the reasonable, measured Chris Purdie down the table on my right, patiently explaining what the Chris Purdie experience may or may not be all about, I felt surrounded by a distinct sense of adulthood, an angular, crisp, unfaltering, sure, adult-sense of life & art, & it was then that I identified what was most Chris Purdie to me, & the less I felt it from the panel, the more overwhelmed I became by it, with a stronger need to represent it, to embody the side of Chris Purdie most incongruous to the whole Chris Purdie Project. 

Within the soft, black hoodie & stiff, gray work slacks, between the snug, knit cap & fleecy scarf, I started sliding. I slid down into a place brimming with childlike wonder & hesitation. To a sassy extrovert, it was like being six years-old again, where everything is impossibly new & magical, & the need to share it & be understood, so desperate, the sheer endeavor of communicating it was becoming painful. Taking in a breath, filling my response to another Chris Purdie, I would lean into the mic, & the fear of potentially being mistaken, or garbling my intentions, my visions, was like a hand over my mouth, covering all sound, & I would just hang, all over the mic, my silences heavy & awkward, mouth opened, body forward, thoughts racing, the desperation so pure & artless, I didn't even know how to cover them up. I could laugh, at the wry candidness of the other Chris Purdies, I could laugh, & it felt like bursts of relief, my mouth stretching back, elastic, so willing to endure the impulsive yanks of joy, but then back I slid into the conflict of needing to express, & the need almost paralyzing the expression.

When I finally did connect to a voice, my ideas came out in blurbs, sound bites that seemed only half-related to the current dialogue, but were so essential in my head, & the words landed on the audience like chunks of Styrofoam, "Herman's Heads!"  "Thirty-five, it's thirty-five!"  I could feel how uncomfortable my participation made the panel & the straining audience, & I thought "Yes! This is it! Be with me in this! This space, this glowing, unbearable space of hope & impending rejection! Don't move! Just sit here with me!" And it was in those humiliating moments that I felt we were most connected as a panel, as a room, as an experience, because we could not be sure any of the previous moments were a success in articulation or expression, or understanding, but in the gruesome silences that formed around my attempts to participate, was an undeniable sense of failure, & that was just straight-up uniting. 

The keen presence of both hope & the anxiety of potential failure, negotiating every moment, is what the Chris Purdie experience became for me at that panel discussion Thursday night.  And I thought of a comment Christopher Guest made about J.T. Walsh & his understated choices as a performer: "You have to have a lot of confidence to do nothing." And that night I realized it may not be about choosing to do nothing, choosing not to react, but a reaction so filled & complex with possibilities, that when it looks up, reaches out, it appears very simple & glassy, but is so alive & electric, can pulse across a room, and back again.   

Kat Mandeville

My Preparation

Today, in preparation for my role as Chris Purdie, I watched the film Student Bodies.

Which you can watch here.

Chris mentioned it was one of his favorite movies and the title made me think: why not watch it?

Also: Clifford


Thursday was the Mega-Big Purdie Lecture Thingee at UVU (referred by the performers involved as the MBPLTAUVU—not yet, but I hope it catches on). Fully intending to get there a half hour early, I got lost on the way and struggled with finding parking (a massive booger); I ended up getting there barely 5 minutes early. Chris handed one of us Chrises an outline of what Chris wanted to cover, and while techno-dudes were setting up techno-gear (for me, the most recent technological innovation I’m comfortable with was the Timex-Sinclair One Thousand, one of the first Personal Home Computers, complete with 1,000—that’s right, I said 1,000—BYTES of memory; I was very good at programming it to draw circles in less than 45 minutes), the Chrises were able to go over it quickly. A few ideas were bandied about and discussed, but we mostly spent time “getting into character”.

After the introduction, we kind of muttered self-consciously, then we started talking about our show. Very rapidly, it became obvious that each of us was channeling a different aspect of the Chris psyche, and each of us remained consistent to that throughout the performance. No one had planned who was going to say what, how each of us were going to act, or what each person would focus on, but everything worked seamlessly. Chris was rather confrontational (in a focused, inoffensive way), Chris was very obviously uncomfortable in front of so many people, Chris felt emboldened to explain his motivations to the audience, Chris helped keep the discussion to the outline Chris had written in a comfortable and self-deprecating way, and Chris liked to discuss underlying philosophies that had helped formulate and govern the project. Finally, at the end of the panel of Chrises, one of us discussed our social awkwardness, and everyone at the same time fell uncomfortably, awkwardly silent.

It could not have gone more smoothly (aside from my speaker suit malfunctioning).

What was particularly interesting was that afterwards each of us was able to talk to each other comfortably, politely, and at a level of ease with each other that usually takes a significant amount of time to reach. It seemed that, through the Chris experience, each of us had made a certain level of connection with each other. There were a number of lively discussions within our group, but each potential confrontation was politely side-stepped, each disagreement was civil and respectful, each discussion was filled with attempts to understand the other’s point of view, and everyone was painfully, almost irritatingly, polite to each other. Each of us had developed a certain level of empathy and understanding with the other that led more than one member of the audience to wonder if we had already worked with each other for a substantial bit of time.

By the process of connecting with Chris individually, each of us had (by emulating Chris for a moment) connected with that part of the others. It was a very interesting exploration in social interaction, as well as an intriguing view of the effects of social dynamics. And it was very cool to meet others who had been Chris, people with whom I would not mind spending more time, at all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

EMAIL: Rehearsal Opportunities for Performers

Here is the email sent to all of the performers for rehearsal opportunities, sent 2/19/09.

Here are some rehearsal/*happenings I would appreciate people participating in.
I have all of the uniforms and need to get them to you, not sure how yet.

The following ideas came from Andy Kosorok (a fellow Chris Purdie).

Please wear the uniforms to the following events/situations and document it in some way on the blog (film, photography, written, etc.):
1) FRIDAY FEBRUARY 20: There will be a number of student shows towards the end of the
semester, and the receptions would be fun to Purdie-fy. (This Friday
Feb. 20 from 7-9pm in BYU HFAC there will be the graduate exhibition receptions.
Also that night in Salt Lake City is the gallery stroll or Art Walk from 6-9pm,
it would be great to go and pass out some fliers.)

2) FRIDAY FEBRUARY 20: Go to the Woodbury during the
day and all make identical comments about a work on display.
(open from 11am-7pm
575 East University Parkway #250 | Orem, UT in
the Univerity Mall) Discuss Robert Stuart's work with one of the gallery staff
and mention how the camera was not able to capture the complexities of the work.
Excerpt from exhibition catalog: "Regrettably, the camera and thus printed reproductions serve up only a semblance of these complex works." You may want to look at the catalog online and study it so you can make other comments from the catalog. The more the better. http://www.uvu.edu/museum/exhibitions/2008_woodbury_invitational/robert_stuart/index.html

3) TUESDAY FEBRUARY 24: A group of Purdies checking out the same book at the HBLL
(BYU Harold B. Lee Library has 92 copies of the Illiad, many of them
are located on the south end of the 5th floor. Call No. PA4025.A5 M57,
see reference desk to find more copies.)

4) WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 25: Go to Lowe's at different times, but each looking for the same part
1/2 inch ball bearings, look like steel marbles) and expressing the same frustration when they don't have it.
(140 W University Pkwy Orem, UT - Go to the service desk and ask where to find 1/2 inch
ball bearings. They do not sell them. They may send you to hardware dept. When you find out they don't sell them ask them where you can buy them in this area. Act slightly, politely frustrated.)

5) The Los Hermanos Happening has been postponed until mid-March. more info to come.

Please contact me with questions, comments or other ideas.

Thank you,

* A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. Happenings take place anywhere, are often multi-disciplinary, often lack a narrative and frequently seek to involve the audience in some way. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation. (Wikipedia)

Troy Tuesday

On Tuesday it was Iliad night, and a chance to Purdify the HB Double-Toothpicks. Because of a series of unfortunate inconveniences, I was unable to get to the library until 9:45 pm, but I accoutered myself in Chrisgear and went to get my copy of the Iliad. It was a very warm and lovely evening, and I was the most heavily dressed out of everyone I saw.

When I went to the computers to find where my copy (of the 92 in the library) would be, I found every computer was occupied by pretty people--apparently it was a date-night of sorts. I received a numbered of disdainful power-ignores (you know, when people go out of their way to ensure you know they are ignoring you), a couple sniggers, and a few down-the-nose glances. I went up to one computer with the intent of standing awkwardly close until the user left, but they noticed my purposeful approach, signed off, and let me take it--all without looking at me directly.

The Iliad I was looking for was in the Juvenile section, and I had a considerable amount of trouble finding it. Fortunately, there was an obvious Jock who sniggered (I don't know exactly what a "snigger" is, but both times it happened, the sound was similar and mildly spurnful) and gave me a slightly contemptuous sneer. So, of course, each time I failed to find the call number of my book, I just happened to walk all the way to the end of that particular row, pass just close enough to Mr. Jock (giving him a helpfully conciliatory grin) to make him uncomfortable, and cruise through the stacks for another attempt. On the fourth try I found my book.

When I checked out, the check-out-helper-lady smiled, was very kind, and completely separated herself from the sallow-minded people who had ignored me earlier. I do not know how many other Chris-copies she had helped during the day, but she took me completely in stride.

I do not know if the other people ignored me because I did not look like I was ready for a date, or if it was because my attire was entirely inappropriate, or maybe it was because everyone except the actual librarian was conceited and self-absorbed and wanted nothing to do with a slightly awkward-looking library patron. Whatever it was, I found myself liking librarians.