CLEAN UNION SQUARE
On October 8, I filled Union Square in New York City with forty cloaked figures. The public was invited to join me in cleaning the feet of the figures with the following language: “Clean these feet. Dry them. Hold them in your hands. Be Silent. Pray.” This was an act of communion. Atonement. Preparation for prayer. Of sublimation. Sharing. Of acknowledgment of difference, but also of sameness. Let us be contrary, but let us find peace in our shared rituals!
I used Union Square as a spiritual nexus and invited collaborators from the public to meditate beyond their workaday personal interactions and possibly experience interior reconstruction themselves. Cleaning embodies our contrary nature in its most basic form. We try to control the things that are out of our control. In a sense, that’s what ritual is: an acknowledgment or our fundamental weaknesses. An appeal. The question is of course: to whom do we appeal and why?
As an artist, I’m drawn to performance as one of our oldest forms of storytelling. The fear. Blood and spit-the susurration of gain and loss beyond language, beyond objects. I’m afraid we’ll lose this art, or it will change so much we’ll forget the stink of each other. I enact rituals and tell stories using my body and the bodies of others. If stories aren’t re-told and distorted, they petrify. I steal from tradition, religious practice, and from my collaborators and get their stories wrong on purpose in order to make them right in another way.