Monday, September 26, 2011

Cartoon 10: The Fronterizos Project! (Fronterizos Series #1)

As you can see, this month I'm working with an international group of social artists on a project called Fronterizos. We are doing a month long creative exploration of the concept of BORDERS culminating in the development and tour of a performance piece. (all this in one month, is it possible? We shall see...) 
Hmmmm what should I tell you about the process? One of our first tasks was to decide for what audience we want to develop the show. As a start, we have decided to do our performances in public spaces (plazas, pedestrian streets, parks, etc.) with the hopes of opening up access to artistic expression and to truly interact with the context here. Saturday was our first day of street exploration to get used to how people react to random folks doin' random things in places they're not supposed to.  We wanted to experience how to receive the unplanned stimuli of the streets, like
the random dog that walks into your scene or the police officer that tells you in the middle of your performance that you have to leave because you're obstructing public space. We went out with the assignment to considerately break the flow of things and observe which actions create communication and which ones just piss people off. 
I watched Joaco go onto the patio of a restaurant and stand under a closed table umbrella completely still for like 5 minutes. About 1 out of 3 people who walked by noticed him and they were so tickled :o)  At one point in my exploration I walked by a musician who was playing an accordion in the door of a restaurant and I started dancing to his music. I danced all across the pedestrian street and lots of people stopped to watch.  The musician got a huge smile on his face.  When I finished I looked at the people and smiled and nodded and they smiled back and we all continued on our way.  It was great! 
Near the end of our allotted exploration time, I found Daniel, our intensely dramatic quiet storm, sitting as still as a statue with his limbs tangled up in a fence around a tree next to a construction site.   The rest of the group joined me there and we watched for a moment.  Then we began to cover Daniel in unused slates of concrete from the construction site until he was boxed in completely.  In stone on the sidewalk in front of him we spelled out the word HELP.  We watched for another moment and then Bernardo took a sparkly butterfly clip that I was wearing in my hair and placed it on top of the stone that balanced on Daniel's head.   People watched curiously and one guy started taking pictures.
Finally Joaco put a pile of dirt on top of the butterfly and the slab on Daniel's head and that made the picture taking guy laugh. Then I think he felt bad for laughing and he ran off and so ended our day of street exploration.

The experience gave me a new perception of the possibilities of my participation in public spaces in general. I feel kind of empowered knowing that by simple breaks in the flow/norm, I have the option to bring sparks of newness to my life and the lives of others.  Sharing moments of random creativity with strangers was rather inspirational :o)... well okay not always. We definitely had some not so harmonic moments. At one point we danced out into a gridlocked trafficky intersection to see if we could break the tension of honking horns and furled brows but it just made people honk and yell more 'Frigin hippies get out of the way!' Hehehe.
Oh yes, and I did say "SEVEN people from across the world" so next cartoon I will reveal the identity of our surprise guest!! How mysterious...