On a too bright San Francisco afternoon, I wandered through Golden Gate Park. In the Japanese Tea Garden, I stopped to talk to some flies. They were a bit stoned, as insects in this part of the park tend to be, and they wanted some tacos—the kind that come from trucks parked on the side of the road. I chatted with the koi in the pond. They were pissed that people were throwing bits of trash in their water, but grateful that they weren’t living in some Chinese restaurant in Cleveland or the like. Having lived in Cleveland myself, I had to respect that. I headed to the De Young Museum and found myself alone in the “boring” galleries filled with representational American art of the 1800s. A clump of dead birds, the booty of a hunting expedition in a pre-endangered species era, cried out from beyond the confines of their photo realistic cage. I listened. I strained my ears and could hear the rising din of all the animals in the gallery, a menagerie rendered in oils, terracotta, porcelain and gouache. I wanted to be closer to them. And so I tried to become them. I am still trying.
This ongoing project is series of performances for the camera and performance documentation of interventions in museum galleries. I mimic the gestures and expressions of the depicted animals and ask strangers to photograph or video tape me. Sometimes I linger in front of a piece for a few seconds, sometimes for half an hour or so, depending on the tolerance level of the security guards. I have slithered on the floor between the well-heeled feet of art lovers and nibbled my fair share of invisible acorns.
This performance is ongoing and has so far been enacted at, in addition to the De Young Museum, TATE Britain, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Something Human Productions, London assisted with the British editions particularly, by distracting confused museum staff and tolerating withering looks from ladies with lovely coiffeurs.