project image
Alex Goss, David Maron, Tommy Coleman

first performed on October 6, 2013
Astor Place Square, New York, NY
performed twelve times in 2013


Tommy Coleman

Brooklyn, NY


We, The Body Library, have spent this last year devoting our practice to making connections with strangers in public settings by dismantling anonymity and giving hope to the public by sharing a moment. We do this by initiating action and communication in order to further stimulate a sense of community and devotion to bearing witness to the world around us.

The first performance of “The Body Library (Stealing Feelings & Apologizing)” was completed on Sunday, October 6th, and has been performed over a dozen times since. As a performative action, The Body Library utilizes public settings to initiate interactions between us and the public, further creating actions, conversations or simple gestures that allow us to bear witness to the effect of a stranger and vice-versa. During this performance, our representative Tommy Coleman stands in a location while wearing a tunic-like canvas apron that reads “THE BODY LIBRARY” on both the front and back. The apron is constructed with six individual pockets: two pockets on either back shoulder, three pockets at waist-height on the front, and one large, centralized pocket on the chest.

These pockets hold up to eighteen copies of a hand-made book produced by The Body Library in an edition of 100. The book, titled Stealing Feelings & Apologizing, consists of two essays; the first essay details our finding Jan Verwoert’s essay “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” and just how it has inspired us to take action. Our introductory essay explains how Verwoert’s body of text has moved us and motivated us to the point of creation—inspiring us to follow the text and use its knowledge to inspire others. We recount our experience of first reading the essay, falling in love with it, seeking its origin and finally finding the book that the body of text came from (Verwoert’s Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want) and how we then liberated it from The New York Public Library to actively disperse it ourselves. Verwoert’s writing dissects the artist’s role to create and explains how the act of bearing witness to the act of creation or its process inspires culture. He further explains the significance behind making objects, creating experiences and the importance of these two virtues within our society.

The second essay is a page-for-page photocopy recreation of Verwoert’s “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real,” complete with The Body Library’s scribbles, underlines and notes.

We use this book as a way to create connections with the public, turning strangers into audience, turning audience into participants. By allowing the public to remove this writing from the apron of the body wearing it, we engage in an act of performance that makes connections with society, initiating community in the public around us in order to share an experience.