project image
Meredith Weber

first performed on September 17, 2014
Expo Chicago, Chicago, IL
performed once in 2014


Chicago, IL


“The flowers of the fields are free” is a performance exploring chance encounters, generosity and the poetic within the everyday.

The work is composed of myself as a single performer completely camouflaged in living flowers. The flowers are affixed to a floor-length coat covering the entire surface of the garment. By donning the vestment, the majority of my distinguishing features and signifiers (such as sex and age) were subtracted. Additionally my face was obscured by a black ski mask, creating an element of uncertainty regarding my intentions.

Creating a “living image,” the floral figure alternates between stillness and slow movements, yet remains silent. My gestures were simultaneously invitational to interaction with strangers, yet remained consciously internal. Though my figure positioned itself in stances of openness, the lack of verbal communication demanded the audience exercise agency in regards to how they choose to engage the spectacle before them.

Conceptually fundamental is the reality that the work was completed with no associated cost. “The flowers of the fields are free” was constructed outside of any financial exchange: the coat was sourced from the homeless shelter where I both work and live full time, the ski-mask was lent to me, and the hundreds of flowers used to fabricate the assemblage were sourced from donations. These particular flowers were to be discarded as waste prior to my interception of them through my daily work in food/resource recovery. I was particularly interested in showing this work within the format of a large art fair. As an unpaid performer I debuted the piece alongside galleries that were conducting business transactions at an exorbitant level of financial exchange. Thus I became uninterested in creating any further matter that could be commodified, and instead exclusively employed pre-existing material. As the piece is composed entirely of items deemed as “garbage,” the work becomes concerned with questions of labor and privilege. “The flowers of the fields are free” exists because of the waste of others, however it is only through acts of care and an application of time and conscious effort that the possibly transcendent image might emerge.

(It should be noted that due to a miscommunication between festival organizers, all materials related to “The flowers of the fields are free” were destroyed as waste upon completion of the fair. While unfortunate, this reality perhaps seemed appropriate as an unintentional conclusion for both the poetics and the life cycle of the performance.)