Confronting a Stranger, for Art

21 04 2010

Via New York Times (about Marina Abramovic “the Artist is Present” @ MOMA, where artist sits and participants can sit down and stare, with no interaction)

A moment later, the man, Dan Visel, 32, rose and drifted into the crowds, not sure himself what he had gotten from it. “Time was passing, but I couldn’t tell,” said Mr. Visel, a researcher at a research organization. “The overwhelming feeling I had was that you think you can understand a person just by looking at them, but when you look at them over a long period of time, you understand how impossible that is. I felt connected, but I don’t know how far the connection goes.”

Anywhere in the city outside a museum, he said, this kind of silent confrontation would seem quite mad.

“We insulate ourselves in New York City,” Mr. Visel said. “Everyone goes around with headphones. It’s one of the fantastic things about New York: you can be near all these people, and still be in your own head.”

This work reminds me of an exercise I did in Landmark course, as well as IwB where eye contact is such a big part of communicating, listening and talking to people.  We advert our eyes in shyness, or to not participate, or when things are hard to say.

Mr Visel’s last comment – this idea of “being in a crowd but alone” is true on public transport and is also a reminder how people are often in urban environments not aware, or even appreciating the other people and scenes around them.

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