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 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.

1 comment:

Chris Purdie said...

Thanks Maren. What a wonderful post! You are helping me to understand more about the performance. I had hoped people would benefit from this experience and I am very happy to see that the experience is beneficial.