Appearing in Public

I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to perform portrait-drawing as part of ARC research into affective transfer and affectionate transaction. In the context of a two-day local art fair, I felt my presence there drawing portraits as a bridge between “high” and “low” art, experiencing my role as part “legitimate artist” (framed by Lincoln PoPS “Global Frequencies” Play on P Street public art program) and part “vendor” or “art activity” (framed by common “caricature” services often offered at fairs, zoos, and other social/community events, related to face-painting and other “art” activities available). Because my performance was free, pressure was placed on how capitalism locates creative practices. Because my performance involved sitters/subjects listening to a sonic piece while I drew their portraits, their initial conceptions of sitting for a portrait (or caricature) were altered during our interaction.

Over 8 hours (4 hours each day) I drew around 35 portraits, spoke with many people, and enjoyed kettle corn that one participant brought me (many folks were uncomfortable not paying or tipping me for the portrait). Portraits became the property of the sitters/participants/subjects after the drawing exchange and not documented.

The sound piece that sitters listened to on headphones invited them to recall their earliest memory, to picture the face of a parent or caregiver, imagine how a book about them would describe their “character” and more (04:30)

 

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