PROFESSOR EMELIUS BROWNE’S CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL
MATTHEW DE LEON
In “Professor Emelius Browne’s Correspondence School,” two women, dressed in grey dresses and black cotton gloves, drag three brown paper packages into the space. They separate the packages and leave them unopened. The longest package holds the artist’s body, while the two smaller packages hold gifts. For the duration of the performance, the package stays wrapped, and I do not move. After 15 minutes has elapsed the two women come back into the space, collect the packages, and drag them out of the space, concluding the piece.
I was interested in the activation of the imagination. Most of the time I feel this work is put upon the artist to physically realize a wondrous/interesting object or action. In this performance the audience had to fill in the blank, had to imagine what was in the package (could it be a body, a present, a bomb?). This was a test, not of my endurance, but of the patience and the willingness of the audience to participate. The audience and I were performing at the same time, completely unaware of each other’s actions. It was a challenge for me to feed off an energy I could not see, and confront the reactions of boredom, disinterest, drifting away as I feel these are all valid. The piece wonders, if such a banal thing as a brown paper package can trigger something wondrous, dangerous, or fantastic that is well beyond anything I could ever imagine.