“Silence” is a performative installation exploring the potential power we have over each other. For eight days, eight hours each day, I was installed in the gallery window and negotiated power between myself and the audience through only my gaze. I sat on a simple “throne” consisting of a nondescript office chair on top of an equally nondescript table. My costume was all black and included a ski mask that only revealed my eyes, which were highlighted by a spotlight.
The gallery had no sign, and there was only a small card in the window with the title of the performance and my name. This lack of an easily discernible art context caused a lot of confusion for the audience. This confusion at times led to anger and displays of crude violence; a few men tried to break into the gallery and others threatened to smash the glass. Some spectators cried, others laughed and taunted me, some smoked pot and intensely held my gaze for long minutes, some exposed themselves to me.
The lack of a clear context created the open conditions for these unexpected interactions to happen. I realized that the state of confusion is a very powerful motivator, either to smash and destroy or to wonder at and embrace the unfamiliar.