Putting My Face On, officially installed.
I realized pretty quickly that the installation across from mine actually provided the perfect lurking spot. I could hear what people were saying from there, and I could conceal myself among the hanging objects while I took photos.
Watching people look and listening to them talk to each other, I got the idea to add my notebook to the podium with a note asking people to write down their thoughts and feelings about the video. I wanted there to be a more direct vehicle for people to communicate their thoughts to me, but I didn't want to interrupt their experience or color it by talking to them as the artist.
And people actually wrote things!
I wish I could have left the notebook there for the entire run of the show, but it's the notebook I'm currently using as my sketchbook, and my mom and I went right from the show to the 2-week family beach vacation I'm currently on, so I really couldn't bear to leave it behind. It's definitely a prototype for the kind of engagement I'd like to incorporate in future installations though.
I think the smaller scale did lend itself to a different, more intimate experience of the piece--it was powerful to see people standing face-to-face with it.
Also, the nature of it playing on a loop became important. People would walk up to it when it was already halfway through, and they would stay to see how it began. I like the idea of the process revealing itself in a different way to certain people, depending on when they encounter it (more specifically, I like the way it messes with the chronology, expectation, narrative, suspense of the experience).
Watching children engage with it was also great. There was a pair of little girls who were sisters. I saw the younger one sitting and staring for a while. She got up and returned with her older sister...
She squealed, "Isn't it SO CREEPY?!"
The older one agreed that it was, and lingered, watching it for a full 2 loops before scurrying off to catch up with her sister and mom, who'd migrated to a different area of the floor. I saw her tug her mom's skirt and point back at the video and I heard her say, "Mommy, I like the red one!"
Some other overheard responses include:
"I don't know if I'd call it art...I mean, I know it's art...it's just not my kind of art"
"Now that's an interesting piece"
"I wonder what motivated her"
"It's a shame it's not larger. The installation itself leaves something to be desired"
"[looking at the title] That's hilarious! [watches closely] It really does make you think about getting ready to go out...how you cover your face to do it..."
"Her face is so pretty. I don't know if the lipstick is enhancing or detracting from it"
"The ending is great--I just wish it were longer"
"I feel weird watching this--kind of perverted...voyeuristic?"
"It's like she's putting on war paint. Look how she's sweating. Look, you can see the sweat!"
"The technique of how she's applying it--so measured and even...and what a color"
"That red! It's so...it's overwhelming. Powerful. Yeah, powerful"The piece won Best Assemblage/ Installation, as chosen by Brooke Kamin Rapaport herself! They added a ribbon label to the podium and gave me a certificate and even some prize money!
Exciting stuff folks. The show is up through August 19--go see it for yourself if you find yourself near Red Hook before then.