Live Art at SummerWorks: Have an Experience
by Jason Booker
A two-person podplay (one of a pair in this year’s festival) in which a guerilla narrative is created to have the participants explore a chain supermarket. For those that do not know, a podplay is a pre-recorded art piece created by Silvia Mercuriali for an audience to listen to while experiencing the piece, often exploring a location or neighbourhood. Wondermart questions the commodification of food and the aesthetics of commercialism – why such cold fluorescent lighting or full shelves of product, sitting right at the edge, labels facing out? A fun experience with a partner or a chance to meet a stranger, this “Live Art” – as the festival has dubbed it – deals with the anonymity of being present in a controlled public space intended for browsing and consumption, as the participants go about unnoticed, sometimes observing those around them, before having the surveillance cameras pointed out too. Highly recommended to change your perspective. Performed daily for two people at a time at half-hour intervals.
An exciting performance piece where Brian Lobel – after realizing that an ex-lover had “unfriend”-ed him on a social media website shortly before the lover’s death – questions what counts as a connection to others, especially in an online world. The piece describes a previous work by Lobel where a panel of audience members voted whether or not to delete each of Brian’s nearly 1,400 Facebook friends after a one-minute defence or justification of the connection. Within this edition of Purge, the audience is again invited to vote but only to compare results, based on the friends’ responses to a form letter from Lobel informing them of the initial project, shortly before it was undertaken. In all incarnations, Purge is live-streamed online, making him somewhat accountable to his friends. Lobel is a quirky personality but very approachable, making everyone feel welcome in the room as he honestly shares his life with the audience. An authentic meditation on the definition of a friend or a friendship and a pondering if sixty seconds is enough to encapsulate a lifetime of interaction, the piece is participatory through both the voting and the invitation to purge your own friends in this public piece. Performed once at SummerWorks.