THE DIRECTOR IS IN
THE HOMELESS MUSEUM OF ART / FILIP NOTERDAEME
“The Director Is In” is an interactive street performance that appropriates the famous “Psychiatric Help” booth from the popular Peanuts cartoon series to engage with an audience on an intimate (albeit public) platform. The performance originated at the 2005 Armory Show as a first public outing of my semi-fictional Homeless Museum of Art-and its eccentric Director, played by myself. In 2008, I refurbished the booth for a street performance on the Bowery. But it wasn’t until 2009 that “The Director Is In” took on its current shape, settling into an unauthorized residency under an entrance to the new High Line Park in Chelsea-where it has been ongoing throughout 2010 and 2011 on Saturday afternoons, weather permitting.
The set-up is simple: a small lemonade-stand-style booth, three chairs (one for the Director, two for visitors), and a number of props, including a ticket dispenser, whimsical art objects from the Homeless Museum of Art, my “psychic sidekick” (a taxidermy coyote, in a nod to Joseph Beuys), and a small amplification system for my voice. Essentially a distillation of the Homeless Museum of Art, which in itself was a dadaesque take on the museum as a revered institution and, for a couple of years, an elaborate live-in installation in my apartment, “The Director Is In” addresses the way contemporary art museums have been keen on stimulating consumer behavior rather than reflection. By offering myself as a conversation partner within the context of a fictitious museum, I am myself becoming the museum-free of charge and open to everybody, one or two visitors at a time.
Making room within myself for my visitors, I gently goad them into reflecting on themselves. Taking on the airs of a modern dandy, I flatter them with mockery, stimulate our exchange with inquiries, remain tactful enough to anticipate anything, and never show irritation. There are no time limits to anyone’s visit; I remain fully committed to anybody who takes a seat in one my two visitors’ chairs-one for friendship, one for society, as I am fond to announce, quoting Henry Thoreau. The ultimate goal is to make sure that every visitor has a deeply personal and complete “museum experience” and comes away with a keen feeling that we, merely aided by the art included or inherent in my installation, have sought in each other’s company good sense or, in the best case scenario, truth.