DANGER DEEP WATER
Developed in the drawingshed residency IdeasFromElse[w]here, this performance was initially intended as a visual presentation in Lloyd Park in East London. In the gallery/work area that the curators established, I found large polystyrene packing materials and created a mask. Then I walked through the park and discovered what was left of a pond. There was no water and it was overgrown. Officials had fenced it in and put up a sign that read,”Danger: Deep Water.”
Wearing the mask and dressed in all white, I climbed over the fence and stood on a stool in the middle of the pond. I stood as a statue where no one had stood for years to interrupt an ordinary day in the park.
The first people to notice me were a couple of unruly boys. They gathered round the fence and throwing sticks and stones in my direction yelled at me to “GET OUT!” The newly gathered crowd felt angry. Slowly though, as I stood there, I felt the mood shift from concern to curiosity.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a little boy yelled, “Are you ok? Do you need help?” I spontaneously responded with hand gestures and body movement. Then more questions: “What’s your job? Are you getting paid? What’s your favorite shape? Are you lonely? Are you in love?” And then, “Is this art?” He was the voice of the crowd that connected everyone. For two and a half hours, I heard various streams of conversations around me. I kept hearing people asking, “Is this art?”
For those visiting the park that day, they saw more than individuals looking at a human statue in a waterless pond. They saw a community connecting and energizing public space.