“Wisdom Box” is a performance where I go out into the public with a wearable sculpture and wait for individuals to join me in wearing the sculpture. Once they have joined me, I have a rolling series of questions I ask; one per participant. The questions are based on the Seven Ages of Man, from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” I engage the person in conversation and ask and answer questions as the situation presents. The conversations generally find their own organic conclusion. The box is mirrored on five of the six sides and there are lights installed to give a feeling of a contained expansive head space.
This performance investigates the boundaries of intimacy and how audience participation completes a piece. As we move through art history, we see the position of the audience morph and change. “Wisdom Box” demands an engagement of an audience to bring the work to completion and requires the content to be filled out by the participants. In turn, they direct the depth of the content and the level of intimacy that we reach.
The performance lasts for an hour at a time and the box becomes quite heavy pretty quickly. This aspect of endurance makes me earn their stories, and I in turn make the participants earn their space to voice their experience by helping me hold the weight of the box. It becomes a shared burden and an intimate place of give and take. I have built this thing for them and in return I ask for their stories. They take the opportunity to be heard, but they must help me hold the weight if they are to be heard.