For 12 hours, I was handcuffed to a ventilation grate, thereby exposed to the environmental conditions at Spittel-Markt Metro Station in Mitte Berlin. I did so while sitting on a large piece of exposed/developed black photo paper. The “Grate Exposure” makes reference to what 12 hours of being locked in one position outdoors can do in regards to the elements, cold, rain, heat of sun, etc. and the people who frequently pass through the plaza. It also refers to what is often considered a private practice, art making, becoming exposed to the public.
This coincided with the exposure of the United States’s NSA leaks by Edward Snowden and specifically how this invasion of privacy impacted relations with Germany. Having a printed placard stating the name of the piece and my name is what saved me from being arrested by the Berlin police because under the auspices of performance art one does not need a permit. If the action was considered a political “protest” then a permit is required and they would have shut me down only two hours into the piece. Luckily it was not deemed as such by the cops.
The durational aspect of being handcuffed left a physical impact on the piece of photo paper I sat on. It embossed the conglomeration of rocks in the sidewalk and the metal hardware indicative of the transit/ventilation system beneath me. The obvious “Grate Exposure” drew the attention of an art walking tour, local commuters and tourists who engaged in conversations with me about the subject. Even a local newspaper reporter came and did in fact give the concept some decent exposure.