“Habit” was/is an installation/durational event/realist play that was designed to reorient the way we watch performance. Inside a four-walled, fully furnished, functioning ranch house (stocked fridge, working stove and plumbing) designed by Marsha Ginsberg, actors inhabit the set for eight hours a day, performing a realist play (commissioned from playwright Jason Grote) on a loop, communicating only through the dialogue, improvising staging as it suits their needs—if they’re hungry, they cook; if they’re dirty, they wash—and the needs of the characters. The audience circulates outside of the set and watches the action through the windows of the house. It’s a play, sort of. But the performance conditions are modeled on the endurance art of the late 1960s/early 1970s, and the attendance protocols are modeled on those of commercial galleries: you show up when you like; you stay as long as you want; there’s no admission fee; you’re welcome to talk, take pictures, sit on the benches and check email all day, whatever. The truth is, the artwork won’t notice or care; it’s doing its own thing.
The idea was to use elements of TV production, behavioral psychology, and realist theater to ask basic questions about spectatorship, performance, routine, reality and realism, and to force some disciplinary questions about where and how one draws the line between visual arts and theater, between acting and performance, between virtuosity and authenticity, between narrative and process.