Performance documentation. Mount Wellington/kunanyi, Hobart, Tasmania, September 2018. Photo credit: Madeleine Parsons.
An Australian in New York City
Performance as part of Art in Odd Places, West 23rd Street, New York City, June 2018. Photo credit for images 2 and 3: Ed Woodham.
The phenomenon of selfies has led to a form of serendipitous engagement between strangers – fellow tourists in particular – in which a tourist(s) asks a stranger to take a photo of them, trusting this stranger with their beloved camera or phone. This durational performance sought to engage strangers through this ritual, posing as an Australian tourist in love with New York City (which in all honesty was not far from the truth). The costume is deliberately clichéd and over-the-top: an I <3 New York t-shirt, bejewelled NY denim cap, and American flag selfie stick. These kitsch souvenir items are sold throughout New York City and reflect the exuberance and showiness of the city I’ve fallen in love with.
The 23rd street performance site is an unlikely place for tourist selfies with its scaffolding, boarded-up church, traffic, gyms, dump trucks, and other unremarkable shopfronts. Commuters rush by with their heads down, which meant that the targets for engagement were relatively few. I snapped over a hundred selfies during the two-hour performance, usually to pass time while waiting for the right person. When eye contact was made, I would request they take a photo of me. Handing over my phone is a significant transaction of trust, which contributed to the mostly positive engagements. If a spark was evident, I would request a selfie with the participant. This second level of engagement, which was very much led by the participant, often resulted in lengthy conversations about the neighbourhood or my own experience in the city (including one that is still conducted by email to this day).
Performance in the Meatpacking District, New York City, 29 June 2018. Photo credit 1-3: Irene Mohedano; photo credit 4-6: Naomi Moser
Squab Goals celebrates the much-aligned New York pigeon using humour and storytelling.
Soapbox (2013) was a participatory performance at the Plimsoll Gallery as part of the Plimsoll Inquiry.